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Liberia : UNICEF contributes US $1million in educational supplies to boost schooling

A Liberian child receives his Learner's Starter Kit
© UNICEF Liberia/2008
A Liberian child receives his Learners' Starter Kit

MONROVIA, JUNE 11, 2008 – UNICEF’s recent contribution of educational supplies worth US $1 million to the Ministry of Education is in line with the government of Liberia’s commitment to provide quality and free primary education.  The “Learners’ Starter Kit” removes parents and caregivers burden of buying essential materials required for their children to start school.

The supplies which are part of the strategy to improve access to primary education in Liberia were delivered during a hand-over ceremony and comprised 146,000 school bags packed with stationery and readers for first graders, four (4) generator sets for newly renovated County Education Offices (CEOs’) offices, Forty (40) Honda Motorcycles for District Education  Officers (DEOs), and twenty thousand (20,000) learners’ armchairs.

Hon. Hawah Goll-Kotchi, Deputy Minister of Education for Administration who received the donation on behalf of the Government of Liberia said the donation is a salvation for many Liberian families who cannot afford to buy educational materials for their children and who have to restrict the number of children they send to school to minimize the cost. She also advised the main recipients, the District Education Officers (DEOs) to manage the materials and motorcycles with much discipline and care.

Augustus J.Flomo, is the District Education Officer for Montserado County; he has 59 schools under his jurisdiction and supervises 109 regular teachers. His job is to monitor school enrollment, attendance of teachers and learners, and the number of teachers and their qualifications. He was full of relief when he received the motorcycles from UNICEF explaining that “It was not possible to monitor the schools and collect information without the motorcycles as the schools are in remote areas and are not accessible by motor vehicles.”

Although the Government of Liberia in 2006 proclaimed the Free and Compulsory Primary Education that removes the payment of fees, other costs are imposed by schools. Nevertheless the removal of fees has increased the number of children in schools affecting the quality of education due to overcrowding in classes and the lack of qualified teachers whose recently increased salaries of USD $ 50 per month are still inadequate to meet their daily needs.

The current global food crisis is impacting on parents’ and caregivers’ purchasing power for educational materials. UNICEF Education Programme Officer, John Y. Sumo who delivered the goods on behalf of UNICEF Liberia said  “if prices also soar for such commodities as textbooks, pens and pencils, we would inevitably lose recent gains in improving access to quality education.”

UNICEF Liberia’s contribution is addressing the acute shortage in school materials but more is needed. There is still only one textbook for every 27 primary school children in Liberia; families with more than one school going child are splitting one exercise book into two for the children to share.. UNICEF Liberia estimates that USD $13 can buy a child school supplies for one whole year.

 About UNICEF

UNICEF is on the ground in over 150 countries and territories to help children survive and thrive, from early childhood through adolescence. The world’s largest provider of vaccines for developing countries, UNICEF supports child health and nutrition, good water and sanitation, quality basic education for all girls boys, and the protection of children from violence, exploitation, and AIDS. UNICEF is funded entirely by the voluntary contributions of individuals, businesses, foundations and governments.  For more information, visit www.unicef.org.

For further information, please contact: Yvette Bivigou, UNICEF, +231 689 6362, elotracy@yahoo.fr

 

 
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