When an Ebola epidemic affects an area, many precautions and procedures are put into place to protect the health of the public as much as possible. This in many instances might include canceling large gatherings of people, like sending kids to school.
Sierra Leone, one of the countries affected by the Ebola outbreak, has approximately 2 million school-aged children. Currently schools are closed, due to fears of children catching the deadly virus, and at this time won’t be reopened until at least early 2015.
In the meantime, the Washington Post reports that Sierra Leone’s children can access school lessons by listening to dozens of the country’s radio stations and its only television channel. This government program is supported by many who work as education advocates in the area, including UNICEF.
While an estimated 25 percent of Sierra Leone’s people own radios, access to radio waves through a friend or neighbor means the lessons could reach anywhere from 65-96 percent of residents. UNICEF is also employing some tried and tested methods — village town criers to reach as many children as possible.
An estimated 75 percent of primary (elementary) school-aged children attend school, but by secondary school, only about 40 percent of boys and 33 percent of girls still attend. It is hoped that by providing lessons over radio and television, children will be able to stay enrolled in school and keep up with their lessons during this challenging time of managing Ebola.
Hopefully children will be eager to listen; perhaps they’ll be encouraged by the Ministry of Education Science and Technology’s admonition to parents to keep their children chore-free during lesson times.
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Image from the original article: A humanitarian worker in Freetown talks to children about preventing and identifying Ebola on Sept. 18. (Michael Duff/Associated Press)