Tag Archives: WE-CARE Foundation

Jonah reading in Liberia

An update from Liberia

Before lockdown in Liberia, our partner WE-CARE Foundation was supplying schools, community libraries and universities across the country with the brand new books you help to send.

They were also just putting the finishing touches to the last of six Explorer Libraries in schools – a joint project to create school libraries from scratch, filled with brand new books in under-resourced schools.

Lockdown has closed schools and libraries in Liberia but WE-CARE Foundation are finding new innovative ways to keep children and communities reading and learning.

Here, Michael Weah, WE-CARE’s Executive Director, tells us more.

With the Covid-19 pandemic, this may mean the children will be about a year behind in their education.

Can you tell us a little about the work WE-CARE Foundation normally does?

WE-CARE Foundation is an educational NGO. We run several programs including the Reading Liberia Program where we help schools to set up libraries, supply them with books and train and mentor their teacher-librarians.

Library monitors
Library monitors at work in their new Explorer School Library

We also publish our own books which we supply to schools along with other donated books and supply books to colleges, universities, community libraries and other institutions.

Healthcare workers were victims during the Ebola epidemic in 2014 so most of the hospitals and clinics, which should be helping at this time, are closed out of fear.

What restrictions on normal life are being imposed because of Covid?

As of now, almost everything is at a stand-still. All of Liberia’s fifteen counties are under lockdown and travelling between counties is prohibited. Schools were among the first places that were ordered to close. All religious gatherings have been banned, only businesses that sell food, medicine, and beverages are open.

Healthcare workers were victims during the Ebola epidemic in 2014 so most of the hospitals and clinics, which should be helping at this time, are closed out of fear of contracting the disease.

With schools closed, children are not learning; and many of them do not have books at home.

How is the lockdown affecting people’s lives in Liberia?

People in Liberia are facing serious economic challenges. As safety measures become more restrictive, the price of everything from food to transportation has skyrocketed thus making it difficult for lot of our people.

This was made far worse when the lockdown was announced. Basic commodities from the capital can no longer get to the remote counties while agricultural produce from the rural areas can no longer get to the city.

Most people live by doing daily petty trading and from the proceeds, they feed their families each day. Many of them are engaged in small business and hawking in markets. But the fear is that these crowded markets could transmit the virus so the police have been clearing lot of market stalls, leaving many people with no other means to survive.

We are working with organisations that are supplying books to children to read and study at home.

Reading in the library
Schools and libraries in Liberia have been closed

How is the lockdown impacting children’s education?

The second semester, which is the second half of the school year, was just starting when schools were ordered to close. With no end to the pandemic in sight, it means that the whole semester is wasted. Here in Liberia, almost all of our parents depend on the schools for their children’s learning.

With no end to the pandemic in sight, it means that the whole semester is wasted.

Most parents cannot home school because they are illiterate. With schools closed, children are not learning; and many of them do not have books at home. Research and experience show that the longer the children stay out of school, the further behind they will be. With the Covid-19 pandemic, this may mean the children will be about a year behind in their education.

The local cell phones companies have educational apps for parents to use to teach their children, but few people are using them because you have to pay for data and many people don’t have smart phones. The Ministry of Education has also started a program where students are taught on the radio however many of the stations being used cannot reach the more remote counties.

It is evident that schools may not be opening this year so we are planning to step up book distribution to more communities.

How has your work changed since the lockdown?

Our work has changed drastically. We can no longer visit the libraries and have postponed the distribution of books to the schools.

Currently, we are working with organisations that are supplying books to children to read and study at home, supplying Covid-19 awareness flyers along with books and other school materials. Books are also being given to our staff to distribute (safely) in their communities.

Before the lockdown, we had established what we call ‘Community Bookshelves’ in three communities – small shelves built outside to hold books which people can take and read at home. We are still refilling these shelves every week to support the reading hobby of communities during lockdown.

We are working on ways to get more people in communities involved in some form of literacy activity.

Do you have any further plans in development?

It is evident that schools may not be opening this year so we are planning to step up book distribution to more communities. We are working on ways to get more people in communities involved in some form of literacy activity – even if they cannot read, they can “picture read” with their kids or just have a story time in the home. Also, we are planning to supply our school libraries with more books.

Betty

When libraries and schools are open again, what role do you think books will have in helping children to get back to learning?

Children will need to catch up because of the time they have been out of school. It is rumoured that schools may be compelled to promote their students to the next grade, who had passed the first semester. This means those students will be going to the next grade with only half of what they should have learned. This is where books come in. Children will need to do more reading and maths studies to meet the challenge.

… students will be going to the next grade with only half of what they should have learned. This is where books come in.

Sadly, many parents may not be able to afford to send their children back to school because of the economic conditions created by the pandemic. Although government schools are free, parents still have to pay a registration fee for each child as well as purchase a uniform, school materials and books.

Potentially our WE-CARE Library and other community libraries could serve as “schools” for these out of school children when libraries and schools reopen. All of our libraries are positioned to serve their communities but these will need additional books so that we can support out-of-school learners well.

 

* Photos used in this blog were taken before lockdown.

Liberia

MEDIA RELEASE: Book Aid International sends first shipment of books to Liberia

Book Aid International is pleased to announce that over 23,000 brand new books donated by UK publishers are now on their way to Liberia. The books will be used by the WE-CARE Foundation, The University of Liberia and Plan Liberia to support education across the country and enrich the lives of thousands of readers.

Liberia is Africa’s oldest modern republic. It was originally home to freed slaves from America and was the first African nation to elect a female president in 2005, but its history has been marred by conflict. The country was devastated by two periods of civil war that raged from 1990-1997 and again from 1999-2003, leaving 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 recovery was further impacted by the Ebola outbreak in 2014 in which 4,809 people lost their lives. More than 4,400 schools were closed for six months during the epidemic leaving 1.5 million children without access to education. Today, Liberia lags behind most other African countries in nearly all education statistics.

Book Aid International is proud to provide books to its partners across the county who are working to improve the lives of Liberians through education and reading. Michel Weah from the WE-CARE Foundation in Liberia explained the impact the books will have:

“One of the major problems in our Liberian schools is lack of books and this shipment from Book Aid International will really help in meeting that need. Trained teachers and books readily available to the students create an environment where learning is taking place. These will be part of the effort to fill the chronic need for current books that is endemic at all levels of the Liberian school system.”

Alison Tweed, Book Aid International’s Chief Executive, spoke of the charity’s commitment to expand its work into Liberia:

“The need in Liberia is great and we are very pleased to be able to provide thousands of brand new books to support Liberian readers and learners. The books we are providing range from story books which will ignite children’s imaginations to university texts which will help students develop their professional skills, so they will support people from all walks of life. I would like to extend a warm thank you all of the publishers here in the UK who so generously donated the brand new, beautiful books which are currently on their way to Liberia.”

Book Aid International’s expansion into Liberia was funded by Players of People’s Postcode Lottery. To date, players of People’s Postcode Lottery have provided a total of £900,000 to help the charity send books to readers around the world.

To find out more about Book Aid International’s planned work in Liberia, please visit: https://bookaid.org/countries/liberia

Ends

NOTES TO EDITORS

For further information and comment please contact Emma Taylor, Head of Communications at Book Aid International

e: emma.taylor@bookaid.org

t: 020 7326 5800

About Book Aid International

Book Aid International is the UK’s leading international book donation and library development charity. Every year, the charity aims to ship around one million brand new books to thousands of communities where people have very few opportunities to access books and read.

Book Aid International works with an extensive network of libraries, schools, hospitals, NGOs and other partners to ensure that the books it sends reach as many people as possible. The charity estimates that the books it provides reach 24 million people every year.

In addition, Book Aid International runs projects which build the capacity of librarians and teachers to support people and communities.

Visit www.bookaid.org for more information or join the conversation on twitter: @book_aid.

About People’s Postcode Lottery

  • People’s Postcode Lottery is a charity lottery. Players play with their postcodes to win cash prizes, while raising money for charities and good causes across Great Britain and globally
  • A minimum of 31% goes directly to charities and players have raised £237.8 million for good causes across the country
  • £10 for 10 draws paid monthly in advance with prizes every day. For further prize information visit: www.postcodelottery.co.uk/prizes
  • Maximum amount a single ticket can win is 10% of the draw revenue to a maximum of £400,000
  • Players can sign up by Direct Debit, or online at www.postcodelottery.co.uk, or by calling 0808 10-9-8-7-6-5
  • Postcode Lottery Limited is regulated by the Gambling Commission under licences number: 000-000829-N-102511-014 and Number: 000-000829-R-102513-013. Registered office: Titchfield House, 69/85 Tabernacle Street, London, EC2A 4RR
  • People’s Postcode Lottery manages multiple society lotteries promoted by different charities. For details on which society lottery is running each week, visit www.postcodelottery.co.uk/society

Note: Header image photo credit: UNMEER-Simon Ruf