The Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on Maternal Child Health, Madam MiattaFahnbulleh, has recommended that the Parent Teachers Associations (PTAs) in schools in the country must organize PTA committees for the prevention of the Ebola virus in schools in the post Ebola era.
Speaking at the Ministry of Information’s regular press briefing on Wednesday, February 18, 2015 Ambassador Fahnbulleh said it is not time to haggle over whether schools should be re-opened in February or in March as each school will reopen when prepared to do so.
According to Madam Fahnbulleh, who is also a proprietor of a private school, the prevention of Ebola in the classrooms should begin from the homes.
“It should be incumbent on parents not to allow their children to go to school without checking their temperatures and every household must not allow their children to go when they have fever,” she advised.
The Liberian UNICEF Ambassador, who is also widely regarded as a top Liberian cultural star also recommended that parents should take precaution over the means of transport either (Pehn-pehns), motor bikes or taxis that take their children to school for fear of Ebola contamination.
Amb. Fahnbulleh frowned on teachers and staff in the various schools disappearing from the classrooms and leaving the students and pupils on their own. “Once in school anything that happens to a child should be the responsibility of teachers and staff,” she said.
She added that with the reopening of schools parents and guardians as well as school authorities must be on a 24-hour watch of what may happen to a child. “It is also the responsibility of the District and County Education Officers (DEO and CEO’s) to continue visiting and inspecting schools within their respective areas,” she said.
The UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador also said it is not a matter of waiting until the World Health Organization (WHO) declares us Ebola-free before reopening the schools. “We are simply reacting to the demands of students that schools should be reopened now although Ebola is still around,” she said.
She intimated, “As UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador on child and maternal health, we should not wait until all the 5,181 schools across the country receive Ebola materials before reopening the schools. We will expect slowness in transporting of the Ebola materials to Lofa and Nimba”.
According to Madam Fahnbulleh, academic institutions with large student enrollments such as the University of Liberia and the various community colleges will surely have strains in taking the thermometer temperatures before entering classes, hence people should be trained to make sure that 1,000 students are screened a day.
Madam Fahnbulleh used the occasion to appeal to government for schools to get subsidies, noting that indeed the educational system is in a mess, but it is the responsibility of every Liberian to clean up the mess.
Explaining the inadequacy of funding for the schools and the Ministry of Education, Madam Fahbulleh said that this year the Ministry of Education got US$90 million budgetary allotment which was later cut down to US$43 million out of which US$39 million is for salary payment.
She pointed out that more funds are to be made available for teachers to be paid, adding that had it not been for the support of our development partners such as the WHO and UNICEF we would not have been talking of reopening schools.