UNESCO, Chinese school tech fund helps Liberia recover from Ebola

A school technology project funded by UNESCO and the Chinese government will help Liberia's educational system recover from the Ebola virus outbreak, which has led to more than 10,000 deaths in West Africa.

The US$700,000 "Harnessing Technology for Quality Teacher Training" project is part of a US$8 million funding agreement signed in March 2012 between UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) and the Chinese government that was established to support teacher education and development. The funding agreement is intended to help African nations achieve the U.N.'s Millennium Development Goals.

Liberia will use the technology project to help the country's three teachers' training institutions in Lofa, Margibi and Maryland counties. The funding will help provide computer labs, projectors and Internet facilities, and train teachers to deliver classroom instruction on the use of the equipment. The technology project will also support the University of Liberia's ICT Pedagogy training program, according to the country's education minister, Etmonia Tarpeh.

Schools in the country reopened in February after taking a six-month break in a bid to curtail spread of the Ebola virus.

Liberia's last known Ebola victim died in March. There have been a total of 26,044 confirmed, probable, and suspected cases of Ebola in Guinea, Liberia and Sierra Leone, with 10,808 reported deaths, according to the World Health Organization. So far, a total of 21 new confirmed cases were reported in Guinea, 0 in Liberia, and 12 in Sierra Leone in the seven days to 19 April, when the last WHO update was issued.

In an address to the nation earlier this month, President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf noted that there is no quick fix in the effort to rebuild the country's educational system after years of decline, and that her administration is focusing on training qualified instructors and addressing inadequacies in facilities and instructional materials.

Olusegun Abolaji Ogundeji

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