Progress has been made in recent years to develop the legal and policy framework for community-based natural resource management in Liberia. However, as communities assert their rights to mobilize and manage local resources, there will be a large need for foresters, agriculture extension officers, and administrators to help communities realize these goals. In order to assist Liberia in meeting the need for well-trained foresters, USAID Liberia – through the PROSPER program – has provided support since 2012 to Liberia’s Forestry Training Institute (FTI) in Tubmanburg, Bomi County to upgrade its 34-year old curriculum to include community forestry content. As noted in the enclosed Course Description, “The shift in focus from a traditional to a community forestry system in which Liberians play a more active role in managing forests and their associated natural resources demands a different set of skills, knowledge, and attitudes than those currently imparted by FTI.”
The curriculum presented here comprising two courses and ten modules is the culmination of an iterative process of consultation and collaboration between staff and consultants of PROSPER and the management, faculty, and students of the Forestry Training Institute that began with a participatory assessment in December 2012. The process included focus groups with FTI faculty to identify gaps in lecturers’ knowledge related to community forestry curriculum and to assess teaching methods; focus groups with FTI students to determine capacity levels and learning objectives and to solicit input into content; a comprehensive review of available literature on community forestry curricula; development of an FTI website containing more than 200 documents to enhance access to teaching and learning materials for both instructors and students, and training for faculty in participatory teaching methods (see Guide in Annex). The process concluded in November 2013 with FTI’s validation of the draft curriculum. Implementation of the community forestry curriculum will provide FTI students with the theoretical and practical knowledge and skills needed to be effective in the rapidly-evolving forestry and natural resource management sector in Liberia. In particular, it will prepare them to support and implement the processes involved in developing Community Rights Law-compliant community forestry management bodies, management plans, and related activities.
FOR WHOM IS THIS CURRICULUM INTENDED?
This curriculum has been developed for the use by Liberia’s Forestry Training Institute, located in Tubmanburg City west of Monrovia. Established in 1976 as one of two Mano River Union institutes based in Monrovia, Liberia, the FTI has produced mid-level forestry technicians for Liberia as well as its neighboring countries for over 35 years. USAID-PROSPER undertook the preparation of the community forestry curriculum in support of FTI’s five-year Master Plan (2012-2017). The curriculum contributes directly to the attainment of FTI’s Vision which is to be “the leading provider of middle-level personnel trained to promote the sustainable use and management of renewable natural resources to strengthen and improve the Liberian economy and society.”
A “Participatory Teaching Techniques Guide” developed for the FTI faculty is annexed to this document. The guide is provided as a complement to the training organized by PROSPER for the FTI faculty in August 2013.
The development of this curriculum and accompanying teaching techniques guide was led by PROSPER Community Forestry Consultant, Dr. Kenneth Bauer, with the assistance of PROSPER Senior Community Forestry Officer, Dr. Samuel Koffa and Education Advisor, T. Doe Johnson. Technical supervision was provided by Eugene Cole, Leader for Educational Development and Outreach, and Vaneska Litz, Deputy Chief of Party, PROSPER.