The focus of the coronavirus pandemic has to be on saving lives, but an education crisis is happening in parallel with the health crisis. Contrary to much of the world, for which a disaster of this nature is new, countries in West Africa, like Sierra Leone, have already experienced this kind of disaster and its long-term impact.
During the 2014-16 Ebola crisis, children were out of school and became vulnerable to exploitation, the rate of teenage pregnancy went up, more girls died from childbirth complications than Ebola, and many who did survive never returned to school.
Sierra Leone's Minister of Education says this will not happen again, and his team has implemented measures to ensure that children, girls in particular, do not get left behind. GPE has made US$250 million available to countries like Sierra Leone to work on their coronavirus response. "One of the key risks is we slip back and lose the gains we have made since the beginning of this century," noted GPE CEO Alice Albright.