MESSENGERS OF PEACE

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Another countdown to an Ebola free country commenced yesterday, but before then and for always, there is a need to recommend a joint strategy for hygiene education in our schools. Going to school at St. Teresa Convent, Monrovia was not easy and before then; going through the rigours of elementary at St. Mary Catholic High School, Bushrod Island, and Monrovia, Liberia was equally as challenging in terms of imbibing hygiene education and provision of hygienic facilities including water and sanitation.
Whether we like to accept it or not, Liberia is a country in crisis as the outbreak of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) of 2014/2015 not only threatened to cut off an already limited access to hygiene facilities, but severely impact on our education system as well, contributing to increase rates of water borne diseases, particularly amongst the very vulnerable school children.
While Hygiene education is included in the primary curriculum, it is not yet clear if this is the case in both secondary and tertiary syllabus and the quality of the programme even in primary schools, in general is poor. The lack of water availability combined with generally poor sanitation and hygiene practices among school children and youth are predisposing factors to the escalation of Ebola virus.
The response to the Ebola epidemic over the past months has been primarily financial and technical involving a lot of international support and guidance. It is our opinion at Messengers of Peace (MOP)-Liberia, that the response to the Ebola virus should factor in long term preventive measures that introduces hygiene education in all learning institutions, both private and public.
Our (Peace Messengers) discourse on introducing hygiene education centers on whether the outbreak of the Ebola virus in our midst stimulate a greater , or perhaps different type of, hygiene education programme that prevent the spread of Ebola Virus and other food/water borne or zoonotic diseases among children and youth in Liberia.
Introducing or the reintroduction of Hygiene education programme in schools requires us to plan and develop guidelines of hygiene education programming. This effort requires a work plan of collaborative activities and not necessarily that of the Government of Liberia. We all have a part to play in developing hygiene education materials that are appropriate to our social economic context. Training and capacity building for hygiene education programming must take place within the context of our cultural values and beliefs.
We must teach young people to live in peace and in hygienic environment, we must also try to instill in them the practice of hand washing which must and should be supported with the provision of adequate water supply and sanitation facilities in our schools.
Peace in Liberia, especially as we cope with the aftermath of and a resurgence of the Ebola Epidemic remains fragile and concerning. Our Ebola Educates programme continues and we seek your support.
Until next week, when we come to you with another article on: “Ebola Educates: Introducing Hygiene Education in Schools – Part 2-Crafting Hygiene Education Curriculum in Schools”, Peace First, Peace above all else, May Peace prevail on earth.

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