UNICEF, in collaboration with the Government of Liberia, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and other partners, launched the Peacebuilding, Education and Advocacy (PBEA) programme in 2012. The key objectives of the programme include (i) support to the implementation of the Liberia Strategic Roadmap for National Healing, Peacebuilding and Reconciliation; (ii) development and roll-out of conflict-sensitive education curricula; (iii) capacity building of the Ministry of Education (MoE) and other partners to deliver conflictsensitive education and other services; (iv) improve communities’ capacities to reduce conflicts; and (v) increase children’s and adolescents’ access to quality conflict-sensitive education. The programme is approved to be operational in six counties (Bong, Grand Cape Mount, Grand Gedeh, Lofa, Maryland and Nimba). It is implemented by the Government of Liberia (MoE, the Ministry of Youth and Sports (MoYS), the Ministry of Internal Affairs’ Peacebuilding Office (MIA-PBO) and international NGO partners (Africa Development corps (ADC), Right to Play (RTP)). The implementing partners together with UNICEF constitute the PBEA core team charged with the responsibility of the overall programme management.
The PBEA programme covers a wide range of beneficiaries that include (i) children participating in its early childhood development (ECD) programme; (ii) out-of-school children and adolescents constituting its Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP), Alternative Basic Programme (ABE) and recreational programme recipients; (iii) government officials and young university and high school graduates whose capacity is enhanced to deliver conflictsensitive services and support the government efforts of resilience and social cohesion at community levels; (iv) teachers delivering the new conflict-sensitive curricula in schools; and (v) community members taking active part in conflict resolution and peacebuilding initiatives.
In 2014, Liberia, along with the neighbouring countries of Guinea and Sierra Leone, suffered a major outbreak of Ebola Virus Disease (EVD) that resulted in the death, in Liberia, of 3,608 people and 178 health workers. The outbreak caused setbacks in the political, economic and social gains achieved in the country in the recent past. The overwhelming EVD cases virtually led to the almost total collapse of the health-care system, and movement restrictions to curb the virus’ spread resulted in the decrease of economic activity, rise in prices of basic goods and supplies, and social unrest. By August 2014, the epidemic weighed heavily against the PBEA, as programme activities were severely curtailed due to the Government’s declaration of a state of emergency. Eventually, PBEA was heavily reprogrammed to support the Government of Liberia’s Ebola Emergency Response Programme. Despite the epidemic challenge, the PBEA program was able to achieve the following:
Increased access to quality education for 2,798 children and adolescents.
Enhanced capacity of 126 ECD, ALP and ABE teachers and caregivers to deliver conflict-sensitive education services.
Improved learning environments that provided teaching and learning materials and renovated classrooms for 5,646 children and adolescents from ECD through to Grade 12.
Increased Ebola community awareness, prevention and control campaigns in the counties through training and deployment of 15,288 teachers, principals, community members and national volunteers.
Messaging of schools reopening and related safety cautions through the Come to School National Emergency Education Radio Programme across Monrovia, reaching approximatively 32 per cent of the school-age population.
Development, in collaboration with the MoE and other education-sector partners, of the Schools Reopening Protocols, which defined in detail the responsibilities of students, teachers, parents, communities and education administrators in ensuring a safe, Ebolafree school environment.
The major challenges that the PBEA programme faced in 2014 included (i) EVD outbreak that caused major redirection of activities to support the Government of Liberia’s Ebola emergency programmes; (ii) multiplicity of programme activities that challenged implementation; (iii) delay in Partnership Cooperation Agreement (PCA) formulations; and (iv) insufficiency of implementing partners such that only ADC was active throughout the year. The year however, proved to be one that witnessed an active and effective engagement of UNICEF and partners across sectors.