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Advocate wants children off the streets

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A local group – A World at School, is calling on national government to prioritize education for street children and less fortunate kids in Liberia. The group said building new schools across the country and a 10 percent increment of the budget of the Ministry of Education will help to remove children off the streets into the classroom to acquire education.

It says the education system in Liberia was weak even before the Ebola outbreak, with more than 70 percent of schools destroyed during the country’s bloody civil war, while most school-age children were denied opportunity of acquiring basic education.

Speaking Tuesday, 14 June in a news conference in Monrovia, Mr. Moses Owen Browne, Jr. said, “Many students have not returned to the classroom since Liberia was declared Ebola free in late 2015. This in part due to the trauma of loss and greater poverty, many lost their parents and guidance and lack the financial capacity to restart school.”

He noted that many teachers lost their lives during the crisis while others fled to exile for fear of being killed, according to Liberia’s Poverty Reduction Strategy papers 2008. “We believe education can change the world, no matter what. Education can take us into the future that we long dreamed of. What matters most to us is training, teaching and mentoring young people with the right mind and curiosity, hope and resilience so they can be active creators of the future they want.”

He said the group has laid foundation for vigorous advocacy and created platform for ypoung people to take their destiny in their own hands thru advocacy. “As Global Youth Ambassadors and Education advocates, we are passionate about education and this unique organization inspires us to continue to support young people, street children, out of school kids to see education as the only way forward from poverty and discrimination”, Mr. Browne added. 

He said Liberian should no longer sit back and watch millions of children perish in poverty without education, while calling on governments across Africa to prioritize education. “You already know the Ebola outbreak in Liberia was a great challenge for not just the Government, but also national and international organizations responding to the epidemic. Education was one of the forgotten casualties of the Ebola outbreak like in so many emergencies around the world.”

According to him, Liberia’s existing schools are in a parlous state, and more than half of the country’s schools lack water supply with 43 percent without toilets, adding, Where there are toilets, one is often shared by more than 100 pupils.

Mr. Browne said with nearly 60 percent of children out of school, Liberia stands at the second worse country in the world. The challenges are obvious, yet our government contributes a pitiful 10 percent to education, he noted.

“We must therefore mark the Day of the African Child on June 16, 2016 for young people to stand up against this terrible neglect for education, their futures, and the future of Liberia. We will be using this moment to echo young voices, and spread the advocacy around the Sustainable Development Goals #4 Quality Education for all Liberian children. The government must ensure that young people are protected, and their needs are prioritized” Proclaimed by the then Organization for African Unity OAU, the Day of the African Child seeks to highlight the difficult challenges confronting African youths, and to draw the attention of Governments to take actions, so that African youths, as their counterparts around the world, can realize their fullest potential.

He pointed out that on 16th June 1976 Hector Pieterson was shot during a peaceful demonstration in South Africa about the imposition of Afrikaans and English in schools. He was 13 years old, and his death signifies that advocacy pays adding, “Forty years later, we mark The Day of the African Child by encouraging young people to step forward and speak up about the issues that affect them.”

This year’s celebrations, according to him, are under the theme, Conflict and Crisis in Africa: Protecting all Children’s Rights.” By Lewis S. Teh

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