Six years after its brutal civil war drew to a close, Liberia is struggling to pick up the pieces. Ghostly shells overlook the capital Monrovia, an ever-present reminder of nearly 14 years of conflict that saw the almost total collapse of infrastructure. The country’s youth were worst affected, many were killed, many were orphaned and many were recruited as child soldiers, losing childhood forever.
The education system, too, collapsed as various rebel groups swept through the country often targeting schools for recruits. Almost every child in every classroom has missed out on years of learning and now they’re desperately trying to catch up. Liberia’s president, Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, is well aware of the importance of education and is trying to undo the years of neglect. Her government has introduced free primary education for all and has tasked the Ministry of Education with providing it. Since then, in the last 3 years student enrollment has increased by almost 50 per cent.
But implementing free universal primary education in Liberia comes with its own challenges. While Liberia is on the right track, it will require huge amounts of time, effort and investment. And it is only through education that the youth of Liberia will be able to lift themselves out of their poverty to rebuild their country.