• 48.3%
    Adult literacy rate**
  • 176 out of 189
    Human Development Index ranking*
  • 40.9%
    People living on less than $1.90 per day*

Country context

Liberia, a small country on Africa’s west coast, was home to freed American slaves in the early decades of the nineteenth century. It is Africa’s oldest modern republic and was the first African nation to elect a female President in 2005.

The country was devastated by two periods of civil war from 1990-1997 and 1999-2003 which left an estimated 250,000 people dead. 80% of schools were destroyed or damaged and most of the country’s teachers fled the country.

Liberia’s economic recovery was further impacted by the Ebola outbreak in 2014. The epidemic killed 4,809 people and forced more than 4,400 schools to close for six months, leaving 1.5 million children without access to education.


Reading in Libera
Liberia’s Ebola crisis left 1.5 million children without access to education


Today, this English-speaking country still lags behind most other African countries in nearly all education statistics. More than 60% of Liberians live in poverty and lack access to basic services, such as running water and reliable electricity.

Why we work in Liberia

Despite these challenges, Liberians place great value on education as it can often be the only opportunity to escape a life of poverty. Books and reading materials in schools are, however, very scarce and there are few bookshops even in the country’s capital, Monrovia.

Liberia urgently needs books in schools to help pupils return to learning, in universities and medical colleges to train the professionals of tomorrow and in libraries and community centres to ensure that books that can help improve and change lives are available to all.

Our work in Liberia

We are partnering with the WE-CARE Foundation in Monrovia. WE-CARE offers a dynamic library service to readers of all ages and backgrounds, provides outreach services to schools and trains community workers to support reading initiatives and promote family literacy.


Librarian training in Liberia
Librarians being trained by the WE-CARE foundation


We are also working with Plan Liberia to support their work in schools across the country and supporting higher education in Liberia by providing books to the University of Liberia. We are also working with a range of other higher education and medical training colleges in the country.

So far, we have sent over 23,000 books to Liberia.


Sources and credits 

*UN Human Development Report 2019


** UNESCO Institute for Statistics 2017


Note: Header image photo credit: UNMEER-Simon Ruf


Liberia 2019: Our work in numbers


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