A Bong County based NGO, the Liberia Education Project (LEP), has expressed frustration over the setback in the learning process of Liberian students by the closure of schools due to the Ebola crisis in the country.
“As a result of the unfortunate outbreak of the Ebola epidemic in the country, LEP has initiated a special educational enrichment program that would respond to the current gap created in the education sector,” LEP Country Director, Sebastian Gaye disclosed.
He recalled that since the civil war ended about ten years ago, Liberia has been struggling to revive its school system, but with little attainment. The school system is further impaired by the Ebola outbreak that has halted all educational activities in the country, Gaye lamented.
Mr. Gaye said it is a known fact that Liberian students are not as competent as their colleagues in the rest of West Africa due to the challenges confronting the country’s school system.
The long period of absence from school by Liberian students because of the Ebola crisis in the country will further impede their academic progress, said Mr. Gaye.
“As part of its Ebola containment strategy, the Government of Liberia through the Ministry of Education barred all schools including universities and technical schools from opening until the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) is contained,” Mr. Gaye noted.
Director Gaye indicated that had schools been opened, there could have been the high risk of transmission among students and teachers, since Liberian school settings are noted for overcrowded classrooms and campuses.
Mr. Gaye told reporters recently that government’s position on schools during this health crisis is appropriate, but the downside is the possible decline of students’ performance as most of them are sitting home idle.
Mr. Gaye, a professional teacher himself, is therefore asking parents to conduct home based studies for their children as a means of keeping them abreast of their respective lessons until schools are declared open in the country.
In a related development the Liberia Education Project (LEP) has disclosed plans to help prevent Ebola from entering the Kokoyah District in Bong County, where it has built and is operating an elementary and literacy school.
The LEP’s leadership said the entity has acquired hand washing buckets, disinfectants and anti Ebola messages that would alert rural residents of the Kokoyah District in Bong County.
LEP further disclosed that it has transformed its classroom teachers to volunteers and community workers to distribute materials and educate the people on Ebola prevention.
The group says it is not aware of any outbreak or cases in Kokoyah District, but it is interested in engaging the communities of Kokoyah on the Ebola Virus.
LEP also indicated that the entity is working with the Ministry of Health and Social Welfare on training and preparing its volunteers for quality health message dissemination.
Mr. Gaye said his organization received a technician from the Ministry of Health who helped to train more than ten teachers in Ebola awareness and prevention.
LEP Finance Officer, Mrs. Seelu Mandehdou revealed that a total of US$ 6,500.00 has been raised by its donors many of whom are United Methodist humanitarians in the United States who share the plight of Liberians in the Ebola health crisis.
Mrs. Mandehdou added that a Philadelphia based supporter of her organization is eager to help improve the lives of Liberians through education and health.
The Liberia Education Project is developing a rural learning facility which when completed, will serve as one of the few standardized grade school facilities in rural Liberia.