African education commission (1920-1921).

Education in Africa; a study of West, South, and equatorial Africa by the African education commission, under the auspices of the Phelps-Stokes fund and foreign mission societies of North America and Europe; online

. (page 45 of 47)
Online LibraryAfrican education commission (1920-1921)Education in Africa; a study of West, South, and equatorial Africa by the African education commission, under the auspices of the Phelps-Stokes fund and foreign mission societies of North America and Europe; → online text (page 45 of 47)
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and cooking. About 60 pupils are enrolled, most of whom are in the boarding depart-
ment. There were only three girls in the sixth grade and eight in the fifth grade. Though
there is ample land about the school, the girls receive practically no training in gar-
dening. The school is under the supervision of a colored woman from America, assisted
by Americo-Liberian and Native teachers. The plant consists of a large brick build-
ing and 250 acres of land. At the time of visit the building was in bad repair.

There are several other schools requiring special mention. The Donovan Industrial
School, which the government has been unable to maintain, has been taken over by
the Episcopal Mission, and is now under the direction of three Americo-Liberians
and two Native teachers, with 100 boarding pupils receiving instruction through eight
grades, including some training in agriculture. The Holy Cross Order has organized
a school at Massambalahum in the northwest corner of Liberia, not far from the
English and French boundary lines. The Order plans to maintain a large boys'
school with an industrial plant and hospital facilities. The Bendoo Mission Station
in the Vai country includes a school under the direction of a white clergyman with one
Americo-Liberian and five Native teachers. There are 50 pupils in the boarding
department and 20 in the day school. At Monrovia there is Trinity School with 100
pupils and the Krutown Day School with 70 pupils. The religious work of the Epis-
copal Mission in Monrovia wields an important influence in the town.

Lutheran Church Missions

The Lutheran Mission Board has done a unique educational service in that the
efforts have been directed almost exclusively to the Native tribes of the interior.
Headquarters for the work are at the Muhlenberg Mission, located on the St. Paul
River just beyond the head of navigation. From this point the workers have reached
out to contiguous areas where they have organized three other mission stations. They
are now actively engaged in extending their influence still further into the interior.
According to the government report, they maintain seven schools with an enrollment
of 492 pupils. They have 21 white American missionaries and 30 Native workers.
Considerable attention is given to gardening and industrial training. Each mission


station maintains not only a central school, but several outstation schools in the

Muhlenberg Mission Boys' School

The Muhlenberg Mission Boys' School offers instruction of elementary grade
with training in agriculture and simple industries. The agricultural work includes
gardening, cattle raising, and coffee growing. The handicrafts are carpentry, tailor-
ing, shoemaking, and printing. The morning is spent in classroom instruction and the
afternoon in various forms of industry and agriculture. The staff consists of four
white Americans and six Native helpers. There are 40 pupils of whom 35 are boarders.
The plant consists of a large well-built cement block church and several frame
buildings, including a dwelling for missionaries, a boys' dormitory, an industrial
building, and several smaller buildings. Some of the buildings are very old and in bad
repair. There are also 100 acres of land with farm machinery and a herd of 20 cattle.

Muhlenberg Institute for Girls

This school offers instruction through the fifth grade, including effective training
in gardening, cooking, serving, general housework, and nursing. The work is under
the direction of three white American women with Native helpers. The training is
effective and especially well adapted to the needs of the students. There are 50 girls
enrolled, most of whom board at the school. The plant comprises a large cement
building, erected at considerable cost. The school has been especially unfortunate in
the construction of this building, however. As a result of mistakes of the American in
charge of the construction, the building does not fulfill the purposes of the home
society nor of the workers on the field.

Kpolopepe Station School

The Kpolopepe school is located 75 miles in the interior. It offers instruction
of elementary grade with considerable work in gardening and handicrafts. The
school is under the direction of a white American principal and his wife and five
Native teachers. There are 55 boys, all boarders. The handicrafts include carpen-
try, tailoring, and Native building. The agricultural activities include the cultivation
of gardens, producing bananas and pineapples, and growing groves of palm oil trees.
The plant consists of a home for missionaries, a school building, and a boys' dormitory.
All the buildings are hardwood frame structures with clay walls. There is also a tract
of land of about 100 acres.

Bethel Station School

Bethel Station School is located one day's journey from the Muhlenberg Mission.
It offers instruction in four elementary grades with much training in farm work and
handicrafts. The staff includes a white American and three Native assistants. There
are 44 boys, all boarders. The plant consists of a frame building used as a school-
house and dormitory for the boys, and another frame building used as a teachers'


residence. The residence of the missionaries and several smaller buildings are con-
structed of mud with thatched roofs. The station has 250 acres of land, of which three
acres are in the mission compound and ten acres are cultivated.

Methodist Episcopal Missions

The Methodist Episcopal Board has maintained activities along the coast of Liberia
from Monrovia to Cape Palmas, with a few schools among the Native peoples immedi-
ately back of the coast. According to the report of the Secretary of Public Instruction
for 1921 the mission maintained 32 schools with a total enrollment of 2,126. The
central institutions of the school system are the College of West Africa at Monrovia
and the Seminary at Cape Palmas. Most of the others are day schools with one or two
teachers. The Methodist missions have exerted an important influence on the
Americo-Liberians, the Kru Tribe, and some of the other Native peoples. The build-
ings and equipment are in very bad repair. The supervision has evidently not been
adequate. The society is now constructing three schools in different sections of the
coast region for industrial and agricultural training. Under the wise administration
of the bishop in charge the educational activities are being enlarged and suited to
the needs of the people.

Monrovia Methodist Episcopal Schools

The Methodist schools at Monrovia, including the College of West Africa and the
Patten Memorial School in Krutown, are the largest and best equipped educational
institutions of the town. Other smaller schools are located in the general environ-
ment of Monrovia and on the St. Paul River. The most important of these is the White
Plains Industrial Institute, now being constructed. A building to accommodate 75
pupils has already been completed.

The College of West Africa maintains classes of elementary and secondary grade.
Of the 353 pupils enrolled in 1920, 26 were in the four secondary classes. There were
241 boys and 112 girls, all day pupils. The staff consists of ten teachers, six men and
four women. Of these, four are American Negroes and six are Natives of Liberia.
The subjects of the secondary classes indicate the desire of the principal to prepare
the pupils to teach. They include civics, pedagogy, and history of education. Effort
is made to give instruction in plain and fancy needlework, printing, and gardening.
The plant consists of a brick building erected in 1848 and a small frame building.
Both structures were in bad repair and very much overcrowded at the time of visit.
The location of the institution in the middle of the town hampers its development.

The Stokes Theological Training School was originally planned to offer training
for refigious work. At the time of visit the work was conducted by a colored clergy-
man and his wife, both from America. The reported enrollment was 18 men, most of
them employed during the day in government or commercial offices. About six at-
tended with some degree of regularity. The instruction consists of talks given by the
clergyman in charge on the Bible and simple theological subjects. The building is
of substantial construction with three stories and an attic. The ground floor is used


as a residence and for classrooms. The second floor is used for classes and there is
room for books. The third floor is used for residence. The attic is an open, un-
finished room used for storage and for sleeping quarters for a few pupils.

Cape Palmas Methodist Schools

The Methodist schools in the Cape Palmas region include the Seminary and sev-
eral small day schools. The Cape Palmas Seminary maintains classes of elementary
grade with some instruction in secondary subjects. The reported enrollment is 165,
of whom 80 were girls and 85 were boys. A small boarding department with five
boys and seven girls is maintained. The plant and the compound are seriously in
need of repairs.

The mission stations in other parts of Liberia are maintaining small central schools
with some outstation schools. The Sinoe River Industrial Mission has industrial
and agricultural activities of educational value. These are now being improved and
enlarged. The Hartzell Institute in Lower Buchanan is being strengthened through
the addition of a new building for school purposes. The Nana Kru Mission has a school
with 80 boarders and a number of day pupils. The plant is substantial and there is
a farm. The Garraway Mission has a number of sub-stations. Considerable attention
is given to education and the pupils are required to assist in simple industrial and
agricultural operations.

Baptist Mission Schools

The Baptist Mission Schools are maintained by the Foreign Mission Board of the
National Baptist Convention and the Lott Carey Baptist Mission. According to
the report of the Secretary of Public Instruction for 1921, there were 13 Baptist schools
with an enrollment of 848. These schools are in the coast region. The instruction
is as yet limited to the elementary grades. Some of the schools provide training
in handicrafts and gardening.

The National Baptist Convention schools are directed by a superintendent of con-
siderable educational experience who is now organizing a seminary and training school
at Monrovia for the purpose of equipping teachers for the mission schools. This mis-
sion has six schools with a reported enrollment of 326 pupils. The Lott Carey Mission
has five schools with a total enrollment of 494. Its largest institution at Brewerville
has eight teachers and 182 pupils. Recently this school has added a two-story cement
building. The Ricks Institute in Montserrado County is supported and conducted
by the Baptist Association of the county. It is reported to have three teachers
and 28 pupils.

African Methodist Episcopal Schools

According to the report of the Secretary of Public Instruction for 1921, the African
Methodist Episcopal Mission has eight schools with a total enrollment of 388. With
the exception of the schools at Monrovia and Cape Palmas they are all day schools
with one teacher each. At Monrovia and Cape Palmas there are two teachers in each
school. The mission is just completing the new building of the Monrovia College and


Industrial Training School. This building is a large three-story cement block struc-
ture which has cost $35,000. The ground floor has one large room and smaller class-
rooms. The second floor has an auditorium, president's office, and four classrooms.
The third floor is to be used as a dormitory and has twenty-five rooms large enough
to accommodate two or three boys in each room. There is a one-story extension to be
used as a dining-room. The first and second floors are surrounded by verandas made
entirely of cement blocks. There is also a smaller two-story building costing $14,000.
This building has six dormitory rooms and space for teaching handicrafts. The school
grounds include thirteen acres of land capable of cultivation. The bishop in charge
has excellent plans for the development of the institution, including provision for
teacher-training and instruction in handicrafts and agriculture.

Catholic Mission Schools

According to the report of the Secretary of Public Instruction there are five
Catholic schools with eight teachers and 740 pupils. They are all located among the
Kru Tribe. Reports indicate that they have substantial buildings and well-trained

Colonization Societies in the United States

Colonization societies were organized to assist in the settlement of American
Negroes at some place in Africa. The first of these organizations was the American
Colonization Society, organized in 1817 and incorporated in 1837. Other societies
were formed in a number of states. The first of these were in the states of Maryland
and Virginia. These were soon followed by societies in New York, Massachusetts,
Pennsylvania, Mississippi, Louisiana, and many others, both in the North and in the
South. Between 1832 and 1847 these societies endeavored to organize and maintain
separate settlements along various parts of the Liberian coast. In 1847 these settle-
ments were all united under the republic with the exception of " Maryland in Liberia."
which was received into the republic as Maryland County in 1857. Four of these soci-
eties have continued to the present time. They have had very little influence on the
affairs of Liberia. Their funds are small and their expenditures have been limited
both by the terms of the gifts and by the uncertain conditions of education and gov-
ernment in Liberia.

The four organizations still in existence are the American Colonization Society,
the New York Colonization Society, the Massachusetts Colonization Society (the legal
name of which is "Trustees for Donations for Education in Liberia"), and the Mary-
land Colonization Society.*

The American Colonization Society was intimately associated with the United
States Government in the early history of Liberia. Its activities in the purchase
of land at the time of settlement in 1822 and the organization of government have
already been described. When the society transferred to the republic the land upon
which the first settlement was made, alternate sections of land were reserved for edu-
cational purposes. There is an interesting question still remaining as to the status

*The Maryland Society is reported as still in existence, though no evidence of its present activities
could be obtained.


of the sections reserved for education. Those concerned in the educational develop-
ment of the Liberian people are of the opinion that the reserved sections may yet be
made available for the extension and maintenance of education. In recent years
the society has confined its activities to donations in behalf of education. Conditions
in Liberia have seriously perplexed the officers of the society in their efforts to expend
their funds in accordance with the terms of the donations. The following quotation
from a statement of the society describes the funds :

The American Colonization Society has a number of trust funds, the income from which is available
for educational work in Liberia.

The principal fund is known as the Donovan Fund, and consists of a fund of approximately $70,000.
The income from this fund under the terms of the trust is applicable first for the transportation of colored
persons who desire to emigrate to Liberia, and if in any year the income from the fund is not used for that
purpose it is applicable for the maintenance of public schools in Liberia. For quite a number of years there
was no demand from the Society for transportation of emigrants and the fund accumulated to the
extent of $65,000. Inasmuch as the alternative provision of the trust required that it be used for the main-
tenance of public schools in Liberia, we were in somewhat of a quandary as to how to apply the fund for the
reason that there are really no public schools in Liberia. Finally the legislature passed an act creating what
is known as the Caroline Donovan Industrial Institute, declaring the same to be a governmental school and
creating a board of trustees for its management; whereupon the accumulated fund, amounting to $65,000,
was paid to the Government of Liberia for the use of this school. The Society has no control over the use of
the funds, having placed the responsibility for expenditure upon the Liberian Government. This was done
because the trust provided that it should be expended for the maintenance of public schools and we were not
in a position to disburse the money direct for such purpose and felt obliged to turn it over to the Government.

The other fund of any size is known as the Graham fund, the income from which is available for educa-
tional purposes in Liberia. For a number of years we maintained about three primary schools out of this fund
and in later years have maintained one. This latter school is maintained at Royesville.

There is another fund known as the Hall School Fund, from the income of which we pay the salary of the
primary school teacher at Cape Palmas.

The New York Colonization Society, organized in 1829 and incorporated in 1855,
holds funds for the encouragement of education in Liberia. The more important of
these funds are the Fulton Professorship Fund, amounting to $25,000, "to main-
tain a professorship in Liberia College, purchase Bibles, for distribution to the members
in the college, to pay premiums for excellence in various branches of Science"; the
"Bloomfield Ministerial Scholarship Fund, being the residue of an estate to educate
young colored men, either in the United States or in Africa, to become preachers of
the Gospel or professors in colleges or theological seminaries in Africa"; and the
Beveridge Scientific and General Scholarship Fund, the residue of an estate to be in-
vested as a permanent fund "to found and endow scholarships in some college in
Liberia best calculated to secure to that republic the benefits of Christian and scien-
tific education." It is interesting to note the emphasis by each of these donors on
Christian and scientific education. The Bloomfield will has the following significant
recommendation :

I also recommend that the schools in which they may be educated and to which the funds may be paid
be Manual Labor Schools, and for two reasons :

First — It will save expense, and this bequest will educate the greater number.

Second — I recommend that each scholar learn a trade, which will be of essential benefit in Africa,
especially among the Native inhabitants.



It is evident that education in the Republic of Liberia is bound up with other prob-
lems of the Liberian Government, the condition of the Native masses of primitive
people, the character of the small group of Americo-Liberians, and the efforts of
mission societies that have been maintaining schools for many years among the people
of the coast region. The interdependence of these various elements presents a situa-
tion that is exceedingly perplexing. Without the solution of the serious problems of
government, the educational and religious efforts of missions will be very seriously
hampered. Philanthropic agencies and religious missions will necessarily compare
the results of their endeavors in behalf of the African people under the discouraging
conditions prevailing at present in Liberia with those that are realized elsewhere
under governmental conditions that are more favorable to the development of ~ the
people. Liberia cannot hope to attract large expenditures of philanthropic or mission
funds until there is a prospect that the more serious problems of government will be
solved. It is equally true that the final solution of economic and political problems
requires the education of the masses of the people. Temporary arrangements may be
made to tide over the decades that must elapse until education is sufficiently general
to enable the people to participate effectively in the governnient. The policies of social
development require that they shall look forward to the time when the temporary
measures shall be replaced by those that are dependent upon communities of people
who are prepared by education to share the responsibilities of government.

In view of these perplexing social and political conditions, it is not surprising
that the educational activities of missions have not been more effective in the coast
regions and have not penetrated into the interior. The societies deserve great credit
for their continued devotion under conditions that often appeared so hopeless.
Though their success has not been great, they have maintained and extended a nucleus
of civilization that may be still further developed under favorable conditions of educa-
tion and government until the republic has attained the ideals for which it was founded.
The ideal of self-government by a group of African people is worthy of great sacrifices
by both Africans and those who are interested in Africa. As the commission of 1919
stated: "Liberia has been made to feel that her national existence is threatened by
powerful neighbors without, and weakness within." It is generally agreed that the
problems confronting the government are even more serious at the present time
than they were in 1909.

The future possibilities of educational and religious endeavor in Liberia and, indeed,
the future of the republic, seem now about to be determined by the success or the defeat
of the proposed American loan. It is essential that the republic of Liberia and its
friends shall fully appreciate the vital differences that will result from the successful
administration of the American loan or by the defeat or unsuccessful administration
of that loan. On this issue will depend also the policies of mission boards and others
concerned with education and religion in Liberia.

The successful administration of the American loan will in all probability open


the way so that large and effective measures of education and religion may be made
possible. Port facilities will be supplied; roads will be extended into the interior;
sanitary measures will be provided; agriculture, industry, and commerce will be en-
couraged. On this basis of health and economics the morals and morale of the people
will lie improved. Schools and churches will be established and multiplied, not only
through the encouragement of mission boards, but much more through the efforts of
the people themselves.

The refusal of the United States to grant the loan or its failure to administer the
loan in accordance with the spirit of the agreement will leave Liberia alone to work
out its development. Lack of financial resources within the republic and failure to
obtain credit on favorable terms without would defer indefinitely the sanitary improve-
ments, the economic development, and the educational facilities so vital to the welfare
of the Liberian people. It is difficult to see how Liberia can continue to maintain even
her present status in the face of competition with neighboring colonies without such
necessities of civilized society as roads, port facilities, agricultural development, a
sound system of finance, sanitary control, and the educational improvement of the
masses of the people. Missions must organize their work with full appreciation of
the difficulties confronting them. Reservations and precautions not required under
the normal conditions of colonial administration will need to be provided and the
expectation of results will need to be on an entirely different basis from that in most
other parts of Africa.

The outstanding defects in the administration of education in Liberia are as follows :

1. The inability of the government at present to give any financial aid to educa-
tion. If the American loan is successful, funds will be available.

2. The failure of the government and missions, with few exceptions, to suit the
curriculuru of the existing schools to the needs of the people.

3. The concentration of most of the mission schools in widely-scattered coast
settlements, resulting in neglect of interior tribes, duplication of school facilities in
the coast settlements, and ineffective supervision.

The following recommendations indicate the general lines of improvement:

1. That the authority of the Board of Education, appointed by the government

Online LibraryAfrican education commission (1920-1921)Education in Africa; a study of West, South, and equatorial Africa by the African education commission, under the auspices of the Phelps-Stokes fund and foreign mission societies of North America and Europe; → online text (page 45 of 47)