Handicap International has resumed its inclusive education initiative in Liberia, suspended during the autumn 2014 Ebola outbreak.
© S. Bonnet / Handicap International
Liberia agreed to implement far-reaching measures to overcome the Ebola epidemic in its country. For over a year, all available resources throughout the country were redeployed to help achieve this goal. Although there is still a major campaign still underway and the authorities remain very vigilant, restrictions on movement and public gatherings have gradually been lifted, enabling Handicap International to resume its work in the field of inclusive education.
Since 2008, the organisation has been working to include children with disabilities in the Liberian education system. Support is provided to the families of children with disabilities and teachers are trained in strategies designed to support their learning. Ministry of Education staff have gradually got to grips with this issue and specific modules are now integrated into the teacher training curriculum.
Liberia has had to contend with the Ebola epidemic at a time when the country was only just getting back on its feet following 14 years of a brutal civil war.
Ebola has impacted heavily on Liberia; it is one of the three countries most badly affected by the epidemic which hit West Africa in December 2014. Prior to this outbreak, Liberia was already in a weakened state following years of civil war (1989-2003). More than 10,000 Liberians were contaminated with the Ebola virus; almost half of them did not survive.
Though Liberia has abundant natural resources, in particular diamonds and gold, it has a very high rate of poverty and ranks 175th (out of 187 countries) on the Human Development Index. The country has only 200km of tarmaced roads and the capital has very little electricity and no running water. Healthcare infrastructures are also extremely inadequate and have undoubtedly been further weakened by the Ebola epidemic.