New books for Street Child Liberia
We recently spoke to Ernest Lavi Lincoln, the Data Officer at Steet Child Liberia who has led the organisation’s Covid-19 task force throughout the pandemic. Street Child works to help vulnerable children access education, food and develop livelihoods, amongst many other things. He told us of the challenges facing young people in rural Liberia today and how the donated books are key to helping children improve their futures.
“We see a lot of vulnerable children, children out-of-school, not being looked after properly, their basic rights are not being adhered to. So it is that drive that keeps Street Child going and ensures that children live in economically stable homes as every child should. We help to make sure that they have access to quality education and they receive the support they need from their family and community to help them improve their wellbeing.
In Liberia, it’s common for students to start school late or drop out.
Parents often have five, six, seven, eight children and then they have to decide that maybe John would go to school this year, and the rest would stay back because they don’t have finances to cover everyone going. Maybe John will go to school for two years, and Mary has to go to school for the next two.
Another issue has to do with urban mobility. People go into rural areas, request children to come to the city, give parents promises that they’re going to have their child enrolled in school and provide the basic needs, but it turns out these children come to the city and they are made to be street sellers. They are roaming around the streets selling, and they skip out on school.
So we often recruit children from vulnerable communities, and it’s our responsibility to have them enrolled in school and provide them with all of the tools they will need for a whole academic year.
That includes uniform, textbooks, reading books, pens and whatever else.
On top of this, we do a sort of monitoring supervision, so it’s not just that we enrol them in the school, but we track their progress, work with their parents to see if time has been put into studying, because yes, you can get these students in school, but that’s not the only challenge.
In vulnerable communities, there is the issue of the child getting home and instead of being able to study they have to go to sell. So there has to be monitoring supervision, not just at the school level, but also at the home level too.
The government is too overwhelmed to run all of the schools, so they work with NGOs like ourselves who help to run them.
We manage around 28 schools, and it’s here that the books donated by Book Aid International are very important.
You’re talking about not just at schools that are neatly built and with a library structure, but schools sometimes built with thatch or sticks and sometimes schools with no previous library facilities at all. And many in very remote areas. So these books have been very, very useful to help the students develop their basic education, which is a challenge in rural Liberia.
We can’t overemphasize how important these donations have been for us.
Numeracy and literacy are the two foundational start-up skills for anybody. In the future, you may not know everything, but the foundation to life is once you’re able to speak well and do basic calculations, you can manoeuvre your way. In the books donated by Book Aid International the content fits the syllabus just right, using simplified teaching so it’s easy to learn these basic skills. Anybody can pick it up – a sixth grade can teach a first grader. That’s how simple it is.
I think that Street Child and Book Aid International can now begin to look beyond their shoulders, to see how we can reach further than our current projects and parameters to expand the libraries across Liberia and reach more children.”
Since 2017 we’ve supported Street Child Liberia with over 23,000 brand new books and we are committed to continuing our work together.