Each year, 24 January is declared International Day of Education to celebrate the role of education for peace and development.
This year was the fourth commemoration of the International Day of Education, celebrated under the theme “Changing Course, Transforming Education”. Education is a human right, a societal good, and a public responsibility.
Today, 258 million children and youth globally still do not attend school; 617 million children and adolescents cannot read and do basic math; less than 40% of girls in sub-Saharan Africa complete lower secondary school, according to UNESCO’s recent global Futures of Education report.
“The need to bridge the gap and transform the young generation cannot be overemphasized. The burden for transformation must begin with us, teachers and school administrators,” says Victoria Harvey, Vice Principal for Instruction, Hermann Gmeiner School in Liberia.
Since the end of the Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) epidemic, significant progress has been made in student enrolment in Liberia. In 2015 alone, close to 1.4 million children in Liberia were registered in primary and secondary schools as compared to 150,000 in the 2013–2014 academic year.
Yet, Liberia has one of the world’s highest levels of school dropped-out children, with an estimated 15 percent not in class. Meanwhile, just over 54 percent of children complete primary education (UNICEF report).
SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia support to the solution
Jerry*** is one of the participants of SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia Youth Care (YC) Programme.
Access to quality education is fundamental to progress and development. The respect of children’s rights, including education, is a key priority for SOS Children’s Villages.
SOS Children’s Villages has been a champion of children’s rights in Liberia for 41 years. The organization focus on the child as a resourceful individual with unique skills and capabilities. Also on young people who are poised to take on the future. They represent leaders to tomorrow, as such they deserve the full support of stakeholders.
To ensure that children stay in school and learn efficiently, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia last year, supported 889 children in 36 communities in Buchanan and Monrovia. Next academic year the figure will double. Which means even more students will have the opportunity to learn.
Jerry, *** 16, a grade 9 student, is one of the 203 youth in the SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia Youth Care Programme. He is currently a student of the Hermann Gmeiner School in Monrovia.
“Many children are not in school because their parents cannot afford to pay their fees. Some are in the street selling water between cars,” Jerry lamented.
Jerry had the opportunity not only to go to school but also attend computer classes, where he learned basic computer skills.
“I feel good that I can help my friends do their assignments. It feels better to support those who need help most,” says Jerry.
“Because of the support received, I also have basic computer knowledge,” Jerry Added.
Currently, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia is partnering with eighty (80) schools, mainly schools that have programme participants, to promote child-friendly classrooms. It is also contributing to the educational sector through the Hermann Gmeiner School. Children and young people are being impacted, and lives are being changed.
SOS Children’s Villages education programme encompasses early childhood care and development, and entrepreneurship training.
What is at stake now?
Although there is a good cause to celebrate the progress achieved over the past decades, we cannot lose sight of the many challenges children and young people still face every day. Access to education remains rare and COVID-19 exacerbated the situation.
“An investment in children and young people pays the best interest, and no one understands that better than SOS Children’s Villages. We work to ensure that children’s rights are protected,” says Augustine Allieu, National Director, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia.
We are also currently living in an unprecedented time and evidence suggests that COVID-19 is likely to derail decades of hard-won progress towards the rights of children and young people.
“COVID-19 threatens the future of children and creates insecurity. In these exceptional times, business as usual is no longer an option,” Allieu added.
As one of the champions for children’s rights and protection in Liberia, the organization believe there is a solution within reach. Education is an important tool to promote social good. Supporting children and young people is a powerful solution and response to this crisis.
For privacy, Jerry***is not the real name.
Written by: Joseph Joboe, Communications & Brand Coordinator, SOS Children’s Villages in Liberia