Friday 30 January 2015

Ebola’s Impact On Child Education In Africa.

The Ebola outbreak has ravaged West Africa leaving thousands dead, and it has also halted education causing a potential crisis for the future. Find out how you can help.

Ebola’s Impact On Child Education In Africa
As the Ebola crisis in West Africa deepens, with cases being recorded in Europe and further afield, it’s becoming apparent that the impact of the current outbreak is causing profound issues across the stricken countries.

The strain put on inadequate health care systems has seen over 8,000 people die and communities crumble. With families losing parents to the disease, children are left vulnerable to poverty a problem compounded by the closure of schools across the region.

To try and contain the spread of the disease governments in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea closed down schools, colleges and other educational centres. However this means that children are missing out on vital education, and as a result facing uncertain futures without the skills to improve their situation.

Ebola In Liberia
It’s been more than five months since schools were closed in Liberia. Children are playing in the streets, working and, in too many instances, begging in place of attending school. The country has a high illiteracy rate and a school system that is both limited and fragile, with too few trained teachers.

Although efforts have been made to set up community learning centres and home schooling the simple fact is that there are inadequate resources for this to be effective, with many parents being illiterate and unable to home school even if they have the time. Also people are still afraid of congregating for fear of contracting Ebola.

Felicia Sackie Doe-Suma is Liberia’s Assistant Minister of Education For Early Childhood Development and recognises the problems Ebola presents now and for the future: “The Ebola virus is a serious threat to mankind, and it had affected and hugely impacted negatively every sector of Liberia – particularly education.”

To help mitigate the school closures the Liberian government launched a Teaching by Radio programme, which features educational programmes led by teachers. However the programme isn’t reaching all areas, leaving children like 13 year old Archie unable to benefit. “I have not heard a programme like that on any radio station in Bomi,” he says. So Archie takes to the streets every day, playing football with friends or loitering around looking for anything to take up his time.

For older children the danger is that even once schools reopen they will have to abandon education to work and earn money to support their families. One community leader noted: “Schools will reopen but there’s no money to put kids in school.”

How You Can Help Fight The Effects Of Ebola
Efforts are ongoing in Liberia and other countries stricken by the disease. Although helping with medical care is vital, it’s important that children’s education continues as this is the single best tool in eradicating poverty.

The creation of safe community learning spaces, home schools and radio clubs will enable children to continue learning and encourage them to return to school once they re-open.

These projects need your support, so visit Plan UK’s Ebola fund today. 

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