3000 children, parents poised to get COVID-19 education
The Kids’ Educational Engagement Project (KEEP) has launched Liberia’s first activity book title: “All I need to know about Corona Virus,” which is intended to educate early learners in the country.
The official launch of the book was held on Saturday, June 6, 2020, at the Young Women Christian Association (YWCA) in Congo Town and was witnessed by partners in education, including Assistant Education Minister Felecia Doe-Sumah.
The book, titled “All I Need to Know About Corona Virus” and the story book will see a distribution of 3,000 copies to participants, including children and their parents, during a period of three months, according to Desmond A. Samuels, Program Coordinator for Kids Educational Engagement Project (KEEP).
Mr. Samuels said many media messages about COVID-19 have been made available in order to help create awareness in the country but very little attention has been paid to children, especially at early grade levels.
Due to this pandemic, the Government of Liberia (GoL) has shutdown schools, entertainment centers, religious institutions and others as a way of controlling the spread of Coronavirus.
Mr. Samuels said the project will be implemented in six of Liberia’s fifteen counties, including Grand Gedeh, Montserrado, Bong, Bomi, Grand Bassa and Gbarpolu.
KEEP Executive Director, Brenda M. B. Moore, said she was excited to launch this program, especially KEEP’s family. Mrs. Moore indicated that KEEP focuses on children and continues to always look for ways to engage children and their parents.
“This project is aligned with everything KEEP stands for as an organization. Couple of weeks ago, OSIWA reached out to KEEP and decided for us to work together during this Coronavirus period,” Mrs. Moore said.
Mrs. Moore said the project has three major components, including to develop an activity book which would focus on teaching kids about the Coronavirus but in a simple way that children under the age of seven can understand easily, and a picture book, titled: “Deddeh Knows All About Corona Virus;” and lastly, the sharing of kit that has radio, soap from local producer, crayon, toothbrush, mask, and hand-sanitizer for the kids. Mrs. Moore said Deddeh is a fascinating character who, at the age of six, already knows everything about COVID-19, which makes the story readable.
She emphasized that lots of the messages developed target older people and youths, thereby becoming difficult to explain to children about why they cannot play with friends now, why they cannot go out, why they are not in school, and why they cannot do many things that they are used to doing.
Mrs. Moore said they decided to do it in a way that the kids can easily pick up and run with, stating, “We need to find a fun way of telling the kids about the virus so that they can recollect the memory.”
“When we talk about social distancing, what does it mean to a six-year-old, what does it mean for a five-year-old not to stand near someone. This activity book has series of activities that any parent with a minimum amount of education, can teach their child to use,” Mrs. Moore said.
The “All I Need to Know About Corona Virus,” which is an activity book, is produced by the Kids’ Educational Engagement Project, with support from the Open Society Initiative in West Africa (OSIWA).
Massa Crayton, Country Director for OSIWA said she was thrilled to witness the soft launch of COVID-19 materials. Madam Crayton said COVID-19 remains a game or life changer which has and will continue to change the course of life going forward and it’s important for everyone to accept it.
“Before now, we weren’t wearing mask except for the medical people and they did it in the environment of medical facility. We have seen the changes in our daily lives that include wearing mask, washing hands, working from home and increasing the hosting of online meetings and schooling,” Madam Crayton said.
She said it has become imperative for organizations, including OSIWA, to change or adapt to the new trait.
“We have been able to relook at our programming objectives and develop some key objectives to respond to COVID-19. One of those objectives looks to engaging the younger generation, information dissemination and how well people are getting the information,” Madam Crayton said.
According to her, they have found out that children are seeing adults wearing the mask and telling them not to do what they are used to doing but they are yet to get explanation about it.
She said there is a need for adults to ensure that they (children) understand why they should wear the mask as information is essential in this new adaptation.
Assistant Education Minister Felecia Doe-Sumah said she was delighted to form part of this book launch for kids, which will have a greater impact on early learners.
Mrs. Doe-Sumah indicated of seeing several subjects in the “All I Need to Know About Corona Virus” that include writing, spelling, math, and English, all of which will greatly help the kids. She said locally bred initiatives are what Liberia needs to support the learning process in the country.
She said that KEEP remains a strong local partner to the Ministry of Education and will continue to form part of all its programs.
Minister Doe-Sumah expressed gratitude to KEEP and OSIWA for undertaking such a worth initiative that is expected to benefit over thousands of early learners.
It can be recalled that since the closure of schools, KEEP has been doing reading and storytelling sessions both on TV and radio across the country. The local non-profit organization also distributed cell phones and radios to members of its reading clubs, to ensure that they take advantage of the government’s learning by radio programs.