Digital Skills Development in Liberia: Challenges and methods to implementation in schools

Like other developing countries, Liberia is faced with challenges in widespread adoption of digital skills development at schools. Even before the emergence of COVID-19 pandemic, Liberia was already struggling to level up from the impact of devastated civil unrest and the Ebola epidemic which led to an immeasurable economic and social depreciations of the society including the ICT infrastructures. UNESCO Institute for Statistics (2015) assess the Edtech climax of Liberia and found out that access to ICT across Liberia is limited.  These conditions in addition to others pose challenges to adopting ICT in the education sector of Liberia, therefore this article outline critical challenges stagnating the adoption of ICT for education and proffers new approaches to implementing digital literacy training and Ed-tech in the education system across Liberia.  

Judging from the experience during the covid-19 pandemic where a state of emergency declaration closed schools across Liberia, and around 1.4 million students were severely affected due to lack of digital skills to continue learning outside of the classroom or traditional method of instruction, there is a glaring fact that from individual to institutional level,  to increase  has persistently undermined the strive to improve digital skills among Liberians in and out of schools. Upadhyay, A, and Taddese, A. (2020) did a policy or vision for EdTech, institutional capacity, private-sector partnerships and digital infrastructure  and found out that Liberia has a poor ICT infrastructure but there have been gradual moves by non-governmental organizations like Bridge with the LEAP training program and IRIS among others to change the trajectory at some schools in Liberia but government has to provide the necessary facilities and forge a rewarding partnership with the private sector for the implementation of ICT in schools.

Liberia is still facing so many challenges that is slowing the adoption and usage of ed-tech for digital kills development at schools. The problem lies in the vision, capital and political will of the government to considerably invest in the robust development of citizens, specifically students’ digital skills. Although Liberia adopted a national ICT policy in 2019 to drive the direction of the country into an evolving digital literate century, which makes provisions for ICT in education and aims to patronize e-learning and development of Curricula for teaching and learning at all levels but there is no specific ICT policy for the education system that shall be inculcated into curriculum development for classroom instruction.  In 2019, Front Page Africa reported that the education sector and partners UNESCO & the People’s Republic of China initiated consultation to develop a policy on ICT in education but there is no information relating the status of said policy or its endorsement for use by the education system up to present. Also, lack of digital skills inclusion into teacher training curriculum at vocational and university levels has made teachers to lack the knowledge and skills to understand and operate the digital tools required for student digital skills development.

Furthermore, uneven distribution of electricity among schools and limited access to digital devices also play a cardinal role in the slow adoption of digital skills development at schools. Many public and private schools are situated in community with no access to electricity and the cost of operating a generator is very high as the petroleum price  to rise and fall on a daily basis. The computer also is sold at a high price in the market that the schools may not have the capacity to purchase in huge quantity for the purpose of student digital skills development. While on the other hand, high tariff on  The Front Page Africa 2020 report revealed that the Liberian Telecommunication Authority (LTA) issued order 0016-02-25 on February 25, 2019, resulting in additional surcharges on on-net voice and megabyte of data which introduced 300% increment on on-net voice service and a 100% increment on mobile data. The LTA disclosed that the introduction of additional surcharges was intended to compensate for lack of market mechanism and to ensure market stability. Accordingly, its market research indicators showed the sector instability and anti-competitive behavior as a major factor and their order was intended to address this potential market risk.  Liberia in this digital dispensation, is still carrying out the delivery of primary, secondary, and even tertiary education without the support of ICT-based systems. The scenario is that it is most likely to walk through primary, secondary, and  tertiary school in Liberia without observing any sort of technology use either in classroom or in the entire school to give students the knowledge and skills required to strive in this era of digitalization, least to talk about every individual possessing the ability to afford or access digital gadgets for learning and development.

Additionally, the financial strength of schools  varies, schools with external support or high cost of school fees are more likely to have some sort of technology tools for learning while the rest of the schools, including government owned and operated public schools, with limited financial capability face the challenge of affordability of digital devices to offer the required digital knowledge and skills to their students. Therefore, not many students (and even teachers) can access and afford smartphone, reliable internet and computer thereby limiting their ability to use them.

Whereas Liberia’s ICT policy envisage to transform the country into a knowledge-based society and inclusive information society with enhanced social development for all, the exclusivity of these challenges is the extent to which these challenges are able to limit the ability of the country from reaching its goals at the end of 2024 with barely two years ahead and the use of Ed-tech in Liberia especially now that the need for such intervention is crucial. Every country whether  or developing is building upon the experience of the impact of COVID-19 to strengthen the country’s education system to improve on the use of technology for improved learning at all levels.

With the outline of the challenges facing Liberia’s education system, the following would be significant methods to employ for Liberia to overcome the challenges faced in digital skills development at schools.

A specific ICT for Education policy should be developed, identifying and listing all skills that are required for different jobs enshrine into national curriculum and design of training courses for primary, secondary, and most especially tertiary levels to demonstrate the readiness of the country to delve into building the skills of its citizens into digital literacy. At the same time, Liberian teachers training curriculum should contain digital literacy requirement to empower all teachers to understand and operate digital tools for students learning at all levels.

On the other hand, too, government and partners should foster public private partnerships and equally prioritize investment in ICT for education as done to other sectors so that the tools and facilities requirements for the implementation of such policy and the development of Liberians digital skills will be achieved in the midst of an uprising transition to digital economy. This should include a special arrangement with GSM service providers to reduce cost of internet services for educational institutions specifically for public schools to promote widespread adoption and development of digital skills.

Additionally, government of Liberia should put in mechanism to increase access to stable electricity and provide adequate facility for computer storage and training and make computer affordable for institutions and students to purchase by reducing tariff on educational goods like books, computers and other digital learning resources purchase by educational institutions or businesses to ensure the promotion of digital literacy skills development.    


Upadhyay, A, and Taddese, A. (2020). EdTech in Liberia: A Rapid Scan. (EdTech Hub Country Scan No. 01). DOI: 10.5281/zenodo.10.5281/zenodo.3830953. Available from Available under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International,

UN General Assembly, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development (21 October 2015), A/RES/70/1.

Liberia National ICT Policy 2019

Kashan Pirzada, Fouzia Naeem Khan (2013) Measuring Relationship between Digital Skills and Employability, European Journal of Business and Management, ISSN 2222-1905 (Paper) ISSN 2222-2839 (Online) Vol.5, No.24, 2013

Laura Pagani, Gianluca Argentin, Marco Gui & Luca Stanca (2016) The impact of digital skills on educational outcomes: evidence from performance tests, Educational Studies, 42:2, 137-162, DOI: 0.1080/03055698.2016.1148588 0/03055698.2016.1148588

Ezekiel William (2020) 12 challenges facing computer education in Liberians schools

Front Page Africa (2020) Liberia: The LTA, GSM Companies, Who’s Muzzling the Public with Sky-Rocketing Charges on Voice and Data Services?

Author: Ebenezer Seigbeh

The author is a research fellow from Liberia.