“IIEP was the first place that came to mind”: Q&A with Willtress Dolo from Liberia

21 May 2024


Willtress Dolo from Liberia's Education Ministry participated in the IIEP Education Leadership Seminar 2024.

Willtress Dolo, who recently became Director for Education Funding and Project Development at Liberia’s Education Ministry, participated in the new IIEP-UNESCO Education Leadership Seminar in March and April 2024. She has also recently completed the Institute’s Foundations of Education Sector Planning programme.

Dolo says the courses have made her feel empowered in her role, and better equipped to carry out the strategic planning needed to achieve better learning outcomes in her country.

IIEP: Why does this training, and training in general in educational planning and management, matter for the future of education in Liberia?

Willtress Dolo: We have an education system that is not among the very best around the world. This training is so important for Liberia because it helps staff of the ministry to get a broad understanding of what is working in other parts of the world and how they are able to achieve results and improve their education sector. When you get a different perspective of what is happening in other countries, you tend to bring it to your country and put it in your context, and see how it can work for you to improve your sector.

IIEP: What are some of the key priorities for you right now in education in Liberia?

Willtress: The key priority for me in education in Liberia is to increase the quality of learning and to also increase access. Liberia currently is faced with an education sector that has a high out of school rate. So, it is very important to me that we can increase access and subsequently the quality of the education that we give to our students.

IIEP: IIEP supported Liberia with its last education sector plan, and climate change measures were integrated throughout to protect learning. There was also an important focus on girls' education. How has the implementation of the sector plan been going?

Willtress: After the collaboration with IIEP to develop the education sector plan for Liberia, we have started to operationalize this sector plan. We are mapping out and seeing how best we can implement the key components in this plan. Currently, a portion of this plan has been implemented to a certain extent. But there's a large part that still needs to be worked on. We are currently setting targets and timeframes to achieve those important components in the sector plan.

IIEP: How do strong leadership skills support you in your role at the ministry?

Willtress: I have to interact with partners and donors, and then I have to supervise grant agents and make sure that school grants are being properly rolled out to the schools. So, my leadership capacity is very important. These skills will help me to know what and how school grants, school management, and school improvement plans are developed and how they are carried out and implemented properly.

IIEP: You have taken a couple of courses now at IIEP. You already completed the Foundations of Education Sector Planning. What keeps you coming back to continue this adventure of professional development?

Willtress: When I entered the education sector, I thought it wise to develop my capacity on educational issues, and IIEP was the first place that came to my mind.

The course on Foundations of Education Sector Planning broadened my knowledge, and it helped me to see the deep meaning of education planning and how to carry out the strategic planning that is important in achieving educational results.

I felt like I needed more of that knowledge, and that it could empower me. The first course has helped improve my deliverables as a director of education funding and project development. Previously, I was the donor coordinator, and because of the course that I took in Foundations of Education Sector Planning I was able to perform well and got a promotion to supervising the donor coordinator and the grant agents.

IIEP: What is on the horizon for you, and how do you feel your refined skills and competencies will support you and your work to have an impact on Liberia’s education system once you go home?

Willtress: I think that with what I've learned, I will be able to foster an effective working environment with my colleagues. I understand their leadership styles and how it collides with mine. I see how best we can all come together to promote good governance in education, so that our students are getting quality education, and that access is achieved so that a lot of students are in school. We will be able to assess different policy plans to know if they are in line with what we have going on, and how we can improve on those policy plans.