Ministry of Education and UNICEF dedicate primary school in rural Rivercess County [8 May 2014]
Partnership with Japanese Government increasing access to education nationwide
BOE TOWN, Liberia – At a ceremony in a remote town in central Rivercess County, the Ministry of Education and UNICEF jointly dedicated a newly completed primary school. Minister of Education Etmonia Tarpeh, local education officials, traditional leaders and other community members attended the handover of the facility, which was constructed with funds from the Government of Japan.
"Quality education requires quality schools," said Minister Tarpeh. "We look forward to continuing our strong partnership with UNICEF to ensure more schools like this one are built and most importantly, that within those schools, students gain relevant, appropriate knowledge and skills."
Located in the village that bears its name, Boe Town Public School serves three area communities and has an enrolment of 215 students, of which 100 are girls. Prior to its reconstruction, the school was a deteriorating mud structure unfit for children. Now, it is not only structurally sound, but also equipped with desks, chairs, blackboards and water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) facilities, including gender separated latrines and a hand pump to guarantee students and teachers access to safe drinking water.
“I am thrilled to be here today to hand over this school to the Boe Town community,” said UNICEF Country Representative Sheldon Yett. “But a building alone is not enough to ensure access to education for children. Dedicated teaching staff, sufficient educational materials and sustained support from the government and the community are crucial to any school’s success. Today, UNICEF is calling upon all of you to maintain this structure and ensure that it serves as the institute of learning it was built to be.”
Situated in rural Rivercess County, Boe Town Public School was a prime candidate for the UNICEF-supported project. Firstly, the town is difficult to access. The nearest paved road ends in Buchanan – the capital of neighbouring Grand Bassa County. From there it takes two hours to reach Boe Town by car via secondary dirt roads that can be rendered impassable for weeks at a time during Liberia’s six-month rainy season. These access challenges make it almost impossible to maintain any public structure in Boe, even one as important as a school.
Secondly, Boe Town is in the heart of Rivercess, one of Liberia’s most impoverished counties with some of its worst education indicators. Rivercess is tied with River Gee County with the fewest primary schools in the country and scores the lowest on gender parity (roughly 59 percent male students against 41 percent female). Some 80 percent of classrooms in Rivercess are reportedly of semi-solid or makeshift construction, and over 22 percent of facilities lack latrines.
UNICEF’s intervention in hard to reach areas like Boe Town is helping the Government of Liberia realize its commitment to free and compulsory primary education under the Children’s Law. Despite this legislation, many children remain outside the classroom. Some children lack access to adequate educational facilities; others begin formal schooling late, placing them at higher risk of drop-out. In 2013, over 90 percent of primary school students in the country were over the appropriate age for their grade level.
In 2010, the Japanese Government joined forces with UNICEF to decrease barriers to education with a US$ 8 .6 million grant under which 90 schools in 11 of Liberia’s 15 counties would be constructed or renovated. The citizens of Boe Town are the latest beneficiaries of this project.
“Prior to UNICEF’s intervention, Boe Town Public School consisted of several mud-walled classrooms with no doors, rusted zinc roofs, a couple dozen wooden benches and limited WASH facilities,” said Mr. Yett. “Thanks to the Japanese Government, we were able to tear down this unsound, unsafe, unsanitary structure and build the child-friendly school that stands before us today.”
UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.
For more information, please contact:
· Adolphus Scott, Communications for Development Specialist
Tel: +231-(0)770-25-7113 (office), +231-(0)770-26-7113 (mobile)
· Carolyn Kindelan, Communications Officer
Tel.: +231-(0)770-25-7110 (office), +231-(0)770-26-7110 (mobile)