Cousins Denise David and Kadiatu Allison, 17 and 18 respectively, live together in Liberia. Denise got pregnant just before her school closed due to the Ebola outbreak, Kadiatu right after. Both girls are now raising 9-month old children, Jenneh and Maimia, alone. Neither knows where their child’s father is.
Even though she would like to, Denise does not think she will return to school because her father will not pay the school fees since she has a baby. Even though education is technically free in Liberia, there are other costs including school materials, transportation, exams and Parent-Teacher-Association fees, which put school out of reach.
With her mother living elsewhere and her father deceased, Kadiatu must wash other people’s clothes to support herself and Maimia. She hopes she will earn enough to go back to school and fulfill her dream of becoming a pilot.
In a 2015 report on the effect of Ebola on education in Liberia, school fees/costs were identified as the primary barrier to education pre-outbreak, followed by work for boys and early pregnancy for girls.