ELECTION DAY IN LIBERIA
Excitement has been building for some time, and today is finally Election Day in Liberia. Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, the Nobel prizewinning, first female President in Africa is stepping down after her mandated two six-year terms. Now, the country is facing its first democratic transition of power to an elected president since 1944.
The stakes are high. Civil war only ended in Liberia in 2005, and the country is still recovering from the Ebola epidemic in 2014. A generation of Liberians has learnt not to expect too much, despite the stability that Ellen Johnson Sirleaf has engendered.
In fact, Liberians are some of the most deprived in the world. Only 10% of households have access to electricity, UN data puts unemployment at just under 40% and a 2013 study showed that fewer than 72% of 15-24 year olds in Liberia could read and write a simple sentence.
However, hopes are high that the current condition of education, health and employment can be improved. There is an awareness that Liberia has greater potential, and a fervent ambition to move forward - of a population of 4.4 million, over 2 million people have registered to vote.
So what does this mean for education in Liberia?
Short term, it means that school registration has been slow, and the school year is only just kicking off. Classes will only really start in earnest after Election Day.
For Street Child, it means pushing forward through the uncertainty, continuing to help the most vulnerable children get a quality education, and advocating for education to take a prominent position in the new government’s priority list.