Meeting Liberia’s Minister of Education
by Matt von Boecklin, M&E Manager at More Than Me
It’s that moment when the Minister of Education of a country I’m not from tells a room full of people from many countries I’m not from, who all hold powerful positions in the local education sector, that my organization is going to be expanding to 30 schools throughout 15 counties. Without warning, those who dearly matter to Liberia’s education system hear loud and clear: More Than Me is unequivocally among them.
At an Education Sector Development Committee meeting atop the Liberian Ministry of Education, the Minister explained the introductory dynamics behind the More Than Me expansion for several minutes to all in attendance. Meanwhile, my brain began darting to every school we haven’t worked in yet and analyzing them from the top down: what do they look like, what are they made of, who are the teachers, the administrators, the students themselves… what are the chronic problems More Than Me is charged to address at each?
This is what we at More Than Me are now faced with: one organization to 30 schools, and who knows how many collaborations and partnerships to be forged therein, to give primary students an education that matters. The monumental level of work to do — just to prepare to be an effective force for nationwide education — stacked reams in my head as the Minister concluded his remarks and departed the meeting.
Snapping out of the reverie, I stood up and ran out of the meeting myself, chasing the Minister down and calling out to him. He had zero knowledge who I was, and naturally, he and his aides stopped, turned, and looked at me in surprise. I introduced myself with outstretched hand: “Minister Werner, I’m Matt. I work with More Than Me.” Instantly his demeanor energized, and a wide smile took over his face. Shaking my hand, he told me to come to his office after the meeting. When I did, the two of us sat and talked shop. What were the next steps? What were we responsible for? Who would we want to work with? And (my personal favorite) would I be willing to teach monitoring and evaluation best practices to ministry staff?
Walking back to the meeting, I scanned the faces of all around me and guessed at whom I would be working with closely in the next year, where, and in which capacities. I tell you, few meetings give a man as much curious enthusiasm to be a part of something as one like that.