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Liberia to Launch Girls’ Education National Policy

H.E. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, to Deliver Keynote Address

MONROVIA, 17 April 2006 – The Government of Liberia will launch its National Girls’ Education Policy tomorrow.  The policy calls for a collective effort to reach Millennium Development Goal 2: universal primary education for every Liberian child.

Her Excellency, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, President of the Republic of Liberia, will serve as the event’s chief launcher and will deliver the programme’s official statement.  The programme, which is being orchestrated by the Ministry of Education, commences at 11:30 AM at Monrovia City Hall.

“We are honoured that the President is serving as chief launcher, it reflects the will of our people that when you educate a girl, you also educate a nation,” said the Hon. Joseph D. Z. Korto, PhD., Minister of Education.  “The launch of the policy is the culmination of more than two years of work by the Ministry of Education, UNICEF and other partners, including the Forum for African Women Educationalists, promoting the education of the girl child.  Education is vital to ensuring a better quality of life for all children and a better world for all people. But if girls are left behind, those goals can never be achieved. In country after country, educating girls yields spectacular social benefits for the current generation and those to come.  An educated girl tends to marry later and have healthier children.  They will be better nourished and better educated.  She will be more productive at home and better paid in the workplace.  She will be better able to protect herself against HIV/AIDS and to assume a more active role in social, economic and political decision-making throughout her life.”

The girls’ education policy calls for:

• Meeting Millennium Development Goal 2 by providing free and compulsory primary school and reducing secondary school fees by 50 per cent;
• Recruiting and training more female teachers;
• Providing counselling in schools for girls;
• Ending the impunity of teachers who commit sexual abuse and assault  of students;
• Offering life skills education at schools  to raise self-esteem so girls can say no to sexual abuse;
• Increasing the availability of small scale scholarships for girls;
• Strengthening health systems in schools;
• Opening new parent teacher associations and girls clubs;
• And promoting adult literacy.

“We applaud the Government of Liberia in making girls’ education a clear priority,” said the Special Representative of the Secretary-General and the Coordinator of United Nations Operations in Liberia, Alan Doss.  “The policy is consistent with Article 25 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Convention of the Rights of the Child, and therefore all of us at the United Nations must exert all efforts to achieve the goals of girls’ education.  Quality basic education for the girl child is the essential prerequisite for the conquest of poverty, which has become the over-arching goal of the United Nations and the international community in this new century.”

UNICEF Liberia Representative Angela Kearney said the release of the girls’ education policy is due to the work of a team lead by the Ministry of Education that included the Forum for African Women Educationalists, UNMIL, UNESCO, WFP, UNDP, UNIFEM, UNHCR, UNFPA and Oxfam.  The WFP is providing food assistance to an estimated 560,000 Liberian schoolchildren.  In an incentive for Liberian families to keep girls in school, the WFP is also providing girls in the fifth and sixth grade with take-home rations.

“We continue to face a situation in which girls remain at a distinct disadvantage when it comes to enjoying their right to quality basic education.  Consider these facts: the present ratio of girls to boys at the primary school level in Liberia is 40 per cent to 59 per cent, according to the Liberian Millennium Development Goals Report by the Ministry of Planning,” said Kearney.  “In West and Central Africa, almost one out of every two children (45 per cent) is out of school and most of these are girls in rural areas.  Eighty-one per cent of children out of school have mothers with no formal education.  Only 55 per cent of children of school-going age are in school.  This new policy is the first important step to eliminate an imbalance between girls and boys and having all children in school.  This can only be good for Liberia.”


For 60 years UNICEF has been the world’s leader for children, working on the ground in 155 countries 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 boys and girls, 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, please contact:

Patrick Slavin, Communications Officer, UNICEF Liberia
Cell +231 6 538298, pslavin@unicef.org

To receive a copy of this press release and other communications materials via e-mail, please contact:
Alexandria Cooper-Wrimene, Secretary, Information and Communication, UNICEF Liberia
Cell +231 6 514012, acooperwrimene@unicef.org





18 April 2006:
UNICEF correspondent Rachel Bonham Carter hears about the launch of the Girls’ Education National Policy for Liberia from UNICEF Liberia Representative Angela Kearney.

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