Recess is over at a small church school on the edge of Monrovia, the capital of Liberia. Children wearing bright blue, yellow and white uniforms stream back into the classrooms. Seated behind brown wooden desks, with sweat just drying off of their little bodies, only a few children have pens and copy books. They are learning how to read. “Everybody pay attention on the board,” says the teacher.
“Because,” she says.
“Because,” the class says in unison.
“Monrovia, Monrovia,” they say again.
Together, the pupils repeat every word their teacher says from a list of twenty scratched on the blackboard with white chalk.
Most of these children were born in the middle of Liberia’s 14 year civil war. With fighting breaking out across the country, it was too dangerous for many children to go to school. Some parents were afraid if they let their child out of their sight, they would be snatched and forced into the life of a child soldier.
Education for everyone suffered, but it was the women and girls who were affected the most. The latest UNESCO figures show just five out of ten Liberian women over the age of 15 can read or write. For men it is six out of ten. The West African country now has one of the lowest literacy rates in the world, ranked in the bottom fifteen according to UNESCO.
To read this report - click on the link below