New child-friendly school boosts opportunities for Montserrado County children and youth
LOUISIANA TOWN, Liberia, 3 July 2014 – Approximately 200 students from four communities in Montserrado County will begin their next school year in a safe learning environment designed with their needs in mind, thanks to the launch of the newly constructed Louisiana Primary School. The new facility, which was formally handed over to the community by the Ministry of Education and UNICEF, is the latest to be launched under a Government of Japan funded initiative to provide safe, child-friendly schools to communities across Liberia.
The school was handed over to the community by Liberia’s Deputy Minister of Education, Min. Ramses Kumbuyah and UNICEF Deputy Representative, Dr. Fazlul Haque.
“The Government of Liberia is committed to providing quality education for all the children of Liberia, which starts with ensuring communities have access to child-friendly schools,” said Deputy Minister of Education, Min. Ramses Kumbuyah . “We are proud to be dedicating this new school to the children, teachers, parents and all the residents of this community. We know that you want your children to succeed, and the keys to that success are found right here, in these classrooms. By starting school at the right age, staying in school, and making the most of what these structures provide, you are not just building a better future for your child, you are also building a better future for Liberia.”
Situated on the outskirts of urban Monrovia, the Louisiana community has long recognized the importance of providing its children with a basic primary education. The original school, built by the community as a multi-purpose structure, was equipped with only 50 chairs and a few donated desks. Serving four adjacent communities, the school’s enrolment soon far surpassed its capacity, reaching nearly 200 students. Most students spent the school day sitting on the floor of the structure in overcrowded makeshift classrooms which leaked in the rainy season, were poorly ventilated in the heat, and lacked basic toilet or hand-washing facilities.
With funding from the Government of Japan, UNICEF managed the construction of the new school, which now includes seven new classrooms, each designed to accommodate at least 35 students, dedicated toilets for boys and girls, and a separate hand-pump and well for clean water. For the first time, the school also features a reading room, while a principal’s office and teacher’s lounge will also serve to enhance the school’s administration and provide teachers with a dedicated workspace.
“Ensuring access to child-friendly schools is the foundation on which a quality education is built,” said UNICEF Deputy Representative, Dr. Fazlul Haque. “UNICEF is committed to continuing to provide similar support to the Government and communities such as this one in Louisiana to ensure that children have increased access to schools, as well as learning materials and trained teachers.”
“We encourage parents and communities to ensure that children start school at the right age, and stay in school so that they can realize the opportunities that a quality education can provide,” said Dr. Haque.
UNICEF has also provided furniture and equipment. Each classroom comes equipped with individual armchairs for every student – eliminating long days previously spent sitting on dusty floors – as well as blackboards and teachers desks.
The new primary school will begin serving Louisiana Town and three surrounding communities in the next school year, increasing access to quality education for over 5,000 residents and their children. Currently, 191 students are enrolled in the school, including 91 boys and 100 girls; however, thanks to expanded capacity, the school can now comfortably accommodate up to 245 students, leaving it well-positioned to serve the community’s growing needs. To accommodate the expanded capacity, the Ministry of Education has also increased the number of teachers from nine to thirteen.
UNICEF supported the construction of the Louisiana Primary School, under a grant from the Government of Japan, which is facilitating the construction or rehabilitation of 90 schools in 11 counties across Liberia.
For more information, please contact:
Carolyn Kindelan, Communications Officer