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Schools to reopen in Liberia after 7-month closure due to Ebola

More than 1 million students in Guinea already back in school

DAKAR, 13 February 2015 – As children in Liberia prepare to return to their classrooms next week, following seven months of Ebola-related school closures, UNICEF and its partners are putting in place safety measures to minimize the risk of transmission of the virus. 

 “We don’t expect all schools to reopen immediately,” said Manuel Fontaine, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “Typically it can take up to a month before the majority of students are back in the classroom. Throughout that period education authorities will be working to ensure that conditions are as safe as possible.”

Safety measures, including taking children’s temperatures when they arrive to school and making them wash their hands before entering the classroom, have been successfully used in Guinea, where more than 1.3 million children have returned to school since January. Nearly all of Guinea’s more than 12,000 schools are now open, and school attendance is at 85 per cent of pre-Ebola attendance, according to data collected by the Ministry of Education and UNICEF.

Following Guinea’s experience, UNICEF has worked closely with the Liberian government and local communities to develop similar safety protocols. Teachers have been trained to implement and monitor the safety measures, soap and other hygiene materials have been distributed and mass mobilization campaigns on Ebola prevention have been conducted nationwide.

“Liberia has learned important lessons from the successful experience in Guinea, and Sierra Leone will build on the Liberia experience,” said Fontaine. “As more schools reopen we will continue to improve the measures in place to keep children safe.”   

Due to the Ebola outbreak, schools in the three most affected countries did not reopen after the end of the July-August holidays, depriving five million children of months of education. Guinea reopened its schools on January 19, and Sierra Leone plans to do so at the end of March.


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 about UNICEF and its work visit: www.unicef.org

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For further information, please contact: 
Laurent Duvillier, UNICEF West and Central Africa, lduvillier@unicef.org, + 221 77 740 35 77
Timothy LaRose, UNICEF Guinea, tlarose@unicef.org , +224 622 350 251
Rukshan Ratnam, UNICEF Liberia, rratnam@unicef.org , +231 886 760 365
John James, UNICEF Sierra Leone, jjames@unicef.org , +232 76 102 401
Najwa Mekki, UNICEF New York, nmekki@unicef.org, +1917 209 1804





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