Liberia: Back to School

UNICEF Volunteers in West Point, Liberia hold up a sign with information about Ebola
UNICEF Liberia/Cgriggers
Let Us Learn - a Global Initiative for Education

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Since its launch in 2013, the Gender-Equitable Education & Achievement Program (GEEAP) has strived to close the gender equality gap in educational access and learning achievement at the 7th-9th grade level in Liberia. Under the Gender Pillar of Let Us Learn, GEEAP supports 7th-9th grade girls (and boys) at-risk of dropping out with: academic tutorials in the 4 core subjects; child-centered instruction methods; Girls’ Clubs for life-skills awareness & empowerment; and PTA-led community advocacy to promote girls’ enrollment, attendance, and retention. Over 77% of participants scored a yearly average above 80%, and girl beneficiaries exhibited a retention rate of 95% compared to baseline records of 80%.

Field missions to confirm school enrollment figures, staffing capacity, and to conduct student/teacher assessments were planned for April 2014. However, the outbreak of Ebola in Lofa County (one of the principal targets for expansion) and concerns about the spread of the virus along the Monrovia-Ganta transportation corridor derailed assessment plans, and prevented harmonization of LUL interventions within Learning for Peace communities. The rapid escalation of the Ebola crisis over subsequent months led to the suspension of all formal education activities for the remainder of 2014, placing GEEAP interventions on hold until the epidemic can be stopped and school activities can safely re-open.

The Impact of Ebola and the Education Sector Response

The Ebola crisis catalyzed heightened collaboration between the Ministry of Education and UNICEF to develop a joint Education Sector Ebola Response Plan, re-aligning programming throughout the sector to support 1) Social mobilization led by education personnel; 2) Emergency Radio Education content development and distribution; and 3) Development of comprehensive protocols ensuring the MoE can effectively and systematically re-open schools that are safe and protective spaces for learning.