Liberia: A safe school environment welcomes children back to school

With support from GPE and UNICEF, the government of Liberia is making good progress in promoting safe learning and ensuring children can stay healthy while in school.

January 10, 2022 by Education section, UNICEF - Liberia country office
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2 minutes read
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Elizabeth Toe's KG-2 class at Billy Town. Credit: GPE / Kelley Lynch
Elizabeth Toe's KG-2 class at Billy Town.
Credit: GPE / Kelley Lynch

“Our schools are cleaner, our habits are better, we live healthier. We learn better!”

Tenneh Fahnbulleh Madina, Public school in Grand Cape Mount County
WASH interventions helped schools remain safe and healthy spaces. Credit: UNICEF Liberia
WASH interventions helped schools remain safe and healthy spaces.
Credit:
UNICEF Liberia

The government of Liberia, with support from a US$7 million GPE COVID-19 emergency grant implemented by UNICEF, is contributing to making sure the education system is ready for school reopening.

Among the initiatives funded by the GPE-supported program have been the provision of health kits for all schools and the development of a school health and well-being protocol.

These two initiatives aim to improve water sanitation and hygiene (WASH) in schools, which was considered less than satisfactory in Liberia and a situation particularly challenging for girls.

“The health kits provided to us by GPE through UNICEF was the closest practical support we have received in managing the COVID-19 protocols (washing of hands, general hygiene, social distancing, etc.).”

Jenneh B. Freeman, 49-year-old head teacher in Bomi County

Health kits bring positive results

The health kits brought about several benefits, including the following:

  • Incidence of minor illnesses among students dropped.
  • Students stopped getting sick from minor ailments.
  • Incidences of diarrhea dropped among students and teachers.
  • Students came to school only when they were healthy and stayed away when sick.

Additionally, janitorial service staff now have more cleaning materials and protective clothing, which has made their work less hazardous than it used to be. These cleaning materials—part of the GPE health kits—included spray guns (disinfectants), rain boots, gloves and chlorine.

“Our children are healthier and happier to go to school. Before the project, they had to carry water mixed with soap which serve as sanitizer in rubber bottles, and this bottle leaks and soaks their copybook and embarrasses them, as it highlights what they are lacking. Now they have water in school with sanitizers and other cleaning materials. They can use the toilets, not suffer from diarrhea and are healthier than children who do not go to school.”

Musu Gray, mother
Tenneh Fahnbulleh is a 17-year-old student in Madina Public School in Grand Cape Mount County. Credit: UNICEF Liberia
Tenneh Fahnbulleh is a 17-year-old student in Madina Public School in Grand Cape Mount County.
Credit:
UNICEF Liberia

The health kits had also a positive effect on girls’ attendance. The clean WASH facilities created a happier and healthier environment for girls and recreation periods are no longer times to run home and not return.

The pro-disability interventions of the GPE program resulted in the development, procurement and distribution of a basic disability learning kit. This is a first step towards addressing disability and inclusion and operationalizing the existing government policy.

With support from GPE and UNICEF, the government of Liberia is making good progress in promoting safe learning and ensuring children can stay healthy while in school.

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School health
Sub-Saharan Africa: Liberia

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