SMART Liberia has officially won the 2020 Liberian Learning Awards Program with support from USAID Liberia Accountability Voice Initiative (LAVI).
The organization is working to empower Liberian youth through education, entrepreneurship and technology.
SMART Liberia was among eight Liberian Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) that applied for the Learning Awards, an effort designed to promote learning by encouraging CSOs to reflect on their work, evaluate their performance, collaborate and share lessons learned through networking among others.
The second edition of the annual Learning Awards, which was held Tuesday, March 10, 2020, attracted 126 people from civil society, businesses, the media and students, and was held at iCampus on Carey Street Snapper Hill.
After a panel comprising six judges reviewed their applications, three out of eight were successfully shortlisted.
Amongst those who came out with shinning colors are: Inclusive Development Initiative (IDI), an organization that advocates for
people with disability, won second place and Pan Afrikan Volunteers Network (PAVON), took third place respectively.
Speaking at the end of the program was Dieudonne K. Perry, SMART Liberia’s executive director who said the organization is excited to be
recognized for helping Liberian students prepare for standardized tests for college and universities in the United States, guide young people in starting businesses, find jobs and enhance their technology skills and many others.
“It feels good to be recognized for promoting a culture of learning in our organization,’’ he said.
“Going through the application process made me realize that we have a lot of successes.
SMART Liberia envisions a well-educated, value-driven young leaders who are equipped with the tools to drive social change in Liberia.’’
Luther Jeke, iCampus’ manager, said the organization has been working with local CSOs to promote learning since 2016.
More than 10,000 people from civil society, the media, education
sector and business have visited iCampus for events that supports learning and collaboration over the last 3 years.
The Learning Awards was created based on a mapping exercise
conducted to identify the gaps in learning among civil society organizations.
“We wanted to provide an opportunity for organizations to reflect on what they are doing and help them improve what they do and collaborate with each other,’’ he said. “Additionally, we want to celebrate their achievements, but also share their failures and use lessons learned to enhance their programs,” Mr. Jeke added.
Mary Zell, elections, civil society and media team lead at USAID, said USAID is happy to work with LAVI to create a better Liberia by bringing people together to learn and share their experiences.
Dr. Tanya Garnett, Chief of Party of USAID Liberia Strategic Analysis (LSA), who served as one of the judges, congratulated all the organizations for participating in the awards.
Dr. Garnett said she was pleased to see a big improvement in the quality of the applications this year compared to last year.
“The intent is for us to learn from each other,’’ Garnett said. “A lot of organizations do good work, but the challenge is they don’t tell their story well.’’
Franklin Bonner, Deputy Chief of Party of USAID LAVI, said one of LAVI’s main objectives is to establish a culture of learning to ensure that development partners apply and share effective advocacy and accountability methods.
The award winners, he said, have cultivated an environment for learning in their organizations and provided opportunities for other organizations to learn from their successes and failures.
He encouraged other CSOs to make learning a strategic objective in their organization, school and households.
“Encourage your colleagues, children and friends to draw lessons from both successes and failures,’’ Bonner said. “Be open to the idea of sharing those lessons with others, sometimes for critique, but also for growth.’’