Back-to-school kits airlifted to keep Liberian classrooms safe from Ebola

Education in emergencies

With schools in Liberia set to reopen on February 16 after the Ebola crisis, thousands of safety kits have been distributed across the country.

The video above shows the first airlift of school supplies to River Gee county. ‪UNICEF‬ is providing more than 7000 safety kits to about 4000 schools in all 98 school districts across the country and sending them by air, trucks and United Nations vehicles. The kits include buckets, soap, brooms, gloves, and chlorine, and will help school staff, parents and students keep schools safe.

Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf was given a tour of the warehouse in the capital Monrovia where all the school safety kits are packed.

The country’s schools were due to reopen last week after being closed for months by the outbreak of Ebola in West Africa. But the education ministry delayed that until February 16 to ensure safety protocols and health and training requirements were met.

More than 3600 people have died of Ebola in Liberia since the outbreak began and schools have remain closed since July. But some communities have managed to continue to give their children an education. A World at School featured the work of the Kids’ Educational Engagement Project, which has been proving weekly worksheets and exercises for children in communities around Monrovia.

In December, a report by by the Global Business Coalition for Education and A World at School recommended a three-fold response to get five million children affected by the outbreak in Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone back into school. It was feared that unless schools reopen soon, millions of children are at risk of dropping out of school permanently, of becoming pregnant or ending up in child labour.

The report – titled Ebola Emergency: Restoring Education, Creating Safe Schools and Preventing a Long-term Crisis – recommended urgent steps needed to be taken by governments and the international community to get those millions of children back into school and learning. Schools in Guinea started to reopen in January.

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