Caring For Poor Children in the of Midst COVID-19

The new model that Liberia schools resum courses in covid-19 time are not reaching all children and those  abandoned, the vulnerable doing work to survive.

Since the closure of schools due to corona virus pandemic, Liberian schools have also adopted new methods to allow the continuity of education in the country at this time of the health crises.

The government has opted for broadcasting educational program, the school way for finalist student, some schools have decided to continue their program electronically (on line school). And for other schools with limited resources and unable to operate on line, they choose to photocopy notes and share (pick up lesson) this according to some parents, this was the best way.

Currently, only twelve graders are allowed to go back to school to have them prepared for the ensuring West African Senior High Certificate Examination. They will be followed by 9th grade students next week.

Mr. Nathan Karzear, a parent with two of his kids attending the St. Peter Lutheran High School in an exclusive interview said, “to complete the fifth and sixth period, during the two last months, I was going to pick up the lessons for my two children on their campus, S.T. then, I paid $1,500 Liberia dollars(About US$7.00) to the monitor at home.”

Already, when Liberia was not hit by the COVID-19, many kids were seen in the streets looking for fetching for their families.  Adding insults to injuries, COVID-19 has increased the number of kids selling.

 Although, the Liberian government introduced; “Teaching by Radio”,  not too many of them listen to the program because many of them are   on the streets in market and other different public places either selling  or doing some kinds of work.

Many of the kids spoken to are under the age of 14 years and were seen carrying cold water or other provisions, some have turned into technician helpers, car loaders among others.

Accordingly, majority of them cannot benefit from the educational program for Corona time and they don’t even have somebody to cater to them.

Because of insecurity and the economy, majority of the kids in the streets do not take into account any health  measures against the corona virus; they are vulnerable during these critical time the world is faced with.

The case of  Timothy, aged 14, dressed in pants, torn at the knees, and carrying a tray filled with lemon said, “I don’t receive lesson yet at home, I can come every day on the streets of old road, Sinkor and Congo town.”

Timothy has been selling since the Liberian government pronounced the closure of their school. It has had some psychological impact on him but speaking additionally, little Timothy say, his parents are natives of Bong County, Central Liberia.

From poor families who fail to provide them with adequate supervision during this period of health crisis, they must be managed so they contribute to  the survival of the family.

Martha Saky, aged ten, student in first grade is now forced to accompany her mother who sells biscuits, candies and ships.

They both stroll together from streets to streets as she carries the small basket on her head and her mother moves around with a large one on her head.

“I have two children, on age five and ten, I do not have money to support their education in this very difficult time” Princess Tobey, Martha’s mother sadly and desperately said.

Kani Keite, a mother of six children said, since the school closed, her girls have been at home doing nothing, noting  that she isn’t even informed about the on line education and radio broadcast diffusion.

There are many others who claimed that they are were not informed about government’s program although it is being broadcasted on popular radio stations.

Since March 31, 2020, Liberian schools have been closed, children going about different activities, but the good news now is, the Liberian government has set August 17, 2020 as the official date for the gradual resumption of the course on the national territory. Starting from grade 6 to grade 12, but the lack of education for all children in Liberia expose more   vulnerable children to vagrancy, domestic violence and sexual abuse including possible covid-19 contamination.

Education and you is a special column that focuses on the Liberian school system. It captures the learning conditions, environment and how teachers and school administrators conduct their affairs.

This column intent is to draw the attention of educational stakeholders on some of the issues in the Liberian education and how they can be fixed

About the author: Besha K. Kalinda is journalist with extensive years of work.

Contact her on: 0888448326

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