Reopening Schools in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia Before Ebola is Contained Will be Irresponsible

Posted by Jeneba Project on Friday, December 5, 2014 Under: Articles

The ebola emergency in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia has led these countries to temporarily close schools in order to manage the spread of the disease. It has been estimated that the closure of schools affects estimably five million children in the region, and fears that some of these children might not return to school after the emergency have caused some NGOs to call for the reopening of schools in the region. As founder of the Jeneba Project Inc. and someone who has provided education in the region for years, it is perhaps one of the few times in my life that I would have to urge the governments of these countries to keep schools closed until the disease is significantly contained. As it stands now, opening schools will be irresponsible and a grave mistake.

In the Forward to a recent report by the Global Business Coalition for Education in collaboration with A World At School, former Prime Minister Gordon Brown states that with children out of school indefinitely, ebola is threatening to reverse years of educational progress in West Africa. But even as we discuss the matter, ebola continues to kill people, and we cannot bargain with children’s lives in places without adequate resources just to keep them in school. It is true that maybe some of the children might not return to school after the emergency, but that too, is part of the crisis that now confronts the Mano River region, and they would have to find ingenious means of dealing with future consequences of the disease.

As of December 3, 2014, the World Health Organization (WHO) reported 17, 145 cases of Ebola and 6070 deaths. In General, the WHO reported "case incidence slightly increasing in Guinea, declining in Liberia, and may still be increasing in Sierra Leone." Even though significant progress has been achieved since the outbreak of the disease and the worst projections have been averted, WHO reports that capacity remains insufficient to stop transmission in some areas. It will take only a few new infections among school kids to reverse progress already made to square one. Education is important, but major priority should be devoted towards containing a disease that continues to destroy lives. The Global Business Coalition offers some pragmatic recommendations, which in any other region could be implemented, but one of the reasons the Mano River region is being devastated by ebola is lack of infrastructure. In plain language, these countries have been poor and underdeveloped!

I am disheartened by the current ebola situation in these countries after years of struggle to recover from the aftermaths of more than a decade of brutal civil wars, and it is a nightmare to watch children who should be in school idling around, but in order to train their minds, first we must preserve their lives.

In : Articles 

Tags: "joseph kaifala" "jeneba project inc." "jeneba project" ebola "sierra leone" guinea liberia 
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KATEHUN KATEHUN (pronounced Ka-te-hun)-is a Mende word for a symposium or community center where disputes are settled. Everyone is permitted to make his/her case before a presiding chief in an open forum. On this forum, I write primarily for those who stand committed to the Rule of Law in Africa and to the value that our future is better determined by the government of the people, by the people, and in service for the people. To advance the African value of Ubuntu through International Law and the Principles of a United Nations, which propels us towards Life in Larger Freedom.
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