Ebola closed schools reopen across West Africa

Almost 2 million children in Sierra Leone have returned to school after an eight month break due to Ebola. The Government of Sierra Leone and UNICEF along with other partners are working to ensure that children are safe through teacher training, hand-washing and regular temperature checks.

Similar safety standards are in place in Liberia and Guinea, where schools reopened in January and February. In Guinea, more than 1.3 million children have returned to school while in Liberia early data indicates that at least 800,000 students have resumed classes. This number continues to increase as more schools become compliant with the standards for safe school reopening.

“This marks a major step in the normalization of life in Sierra Leone,” said Roeland Monasch, Sierra Leone UNICEF Representative. “Education for all is a key part of the recovery process for the country. Even as we put these extra measures in place to make schools safe places to learn, we must continue to maintain vigilance in the fight against the disease until it is completely eliminated,” Monasch added.

 Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology said it hopes that the year’s academic curriculum can still be covered. Only a few schools had opened in late March for exams.

Just over half of the students at a secondary school in Freetown returned to school Tuesday, said the principal, Florence Hyde-Davies.

The turnout wasn’t as strong at a school for boys, where only about 20 percent of the students attended, but Saint Edwards principal, Frederick Wyse, said he hopes the numbers will increase by the end of the week as skepticism subsides.
Figures from the Sierra Leone Education Country Status Report 2013 indicate 233,000 children were not attending school prior to the Ebola crisis.
School kits will be distributed to all the students, and some 17,000 solar radios are being given to less privileged children in rural communities. Since October 2014, UNICEF has supported the government in running daily emergency radio education programs to allow children to continue learning at home during the Ebola crisis.

ebola, Guinea, Liberia, school, Sierra Leone, West Africa