Providing 10,000 benches to 100 Liberian public schools
“During the war, everything was looted, even school roofs were torn off,” says Vice-Principal for Administration at the Special Projects Government School Victor Dumaxasi. “How can students learn if they don’t have a bench when they come for class? That’s why the donation of UNICEF and the Ministry of Education is so important.”
To prepare for the new schoolyear in September, and in partnership with the Ministry of Education, UNICEF is financing the construction of 10,000 three-seat benches for distribution to 100 government schools that are offering the Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) in five counties. A combined total of 30,000 students in Bong, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Montserrado and Nimba counties will benefit from this donation, including the 800 students who attend the Special Projects Government School in the Stephen Tolbert Estates community in Monrovia, the Liberian capital.
The Ministry of Education thanked UNICEF for the donation, describing it as timely and greatly needed. "There's no such time than now that our schools are in need of furniture. Our partners, especially in the donor community, need to know that Liberia's schools were massively looted during the war and that most of them remain without basic furniture. So these benches are very helpful in addressing the seating problems many schools are facing, as we strive to rebuild our educational system," said Minister of Education Dr. Joseph Korto. "This is part of the Government's 150-day deliverables to our people and it is an indication of how we are working to rebuild our country."
The education of almost half of Liberia’s schoolchildren – an estimated 400,000 students – was significantly interrupted during the years of armed conflict. For these children to catch up, UNICEF worked to re-launch ALP. The Programme condenses six years of primary schooling into three years of intensive education enabling children/youth to make up for their lost years. Special classrooms are also provided where over-aged children are assured of resuming their education.
"ALP schools have an extremely useful function in the rehabilitation and reintegration of war-affected children, including returning refugees, demobilized children associated with fighting forces and all those whose education has been repeatedly disrupted over the past 15 years," says UNICEF Liberia's Officer-in-Charge Keith J. Wright. "By this donation to our partners at the Ministry of Education, UNICEF is assuring the Government of its commitment to helping revive Liberia's educational sector."
In addition to special teacher training, schools that offer ALP can cater to all school-aged children and receive additional supplies, including recreation kits, school gardens, and other support.