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Accelerated Learning Programme gives conflict-affected youths a chance for education

©UNICEF Liberia/2007/Pirozzi
Odell Williams in her Accelerated Learning Programme class in Monrovia.

By Adolphus Scott

From 6-8 November 2007, UNICEF is bringing together donors, other partners, and experts in the field to discuss the role of education in countries affected by conflict or natural disaster, or emerging from crisis. Here is one in a series of related stories.

CALDWELL, Liberia, 26 October 2007 – Odell Williams is a student in the Accelerated Learning Programme (ALP) at the Elizabeth Tubman Public school outside Liberia’s capital, Monrovia.

“During the civil war, I did not attend school for nine years,” she says. “I spent most of this time selling in the local market for my aunt who preferred that I earn money for the family rather than attend school. Now I am 18 years of age and only in the fourth grade.”

As a result of Liberia’s 14-year civil conflict, thousands of youths like Odell were never enrolled in school. Many had to flee to areas where they could not access education.

ALP, led by the Ministry of Education with support from UNICEF and a number of other international organizations, has come to the rescue of many children who missed out on schooling. The programme is part of the effort to restore Liberia's education system, as a first step in getting the country back on the development path.

Making up for 'the lost years'

“The ALP programme is being implemented in approximately 582 schools throughout the country. Out of this number, 210 schools are being supported by UNICEF through the Ministry of Education. At the moment, over 41,000 Liberian children aged above 10 are participating in the programme,” said ALP Project Officer at UNICEF Harriet Matthews.

© UNICEF Liberia/2007/Pirozzi
The Accelerated Learning Programme has come to the rescue of many children who missed out on schooling during the civil war in Liberia.

Decades of conflict have devastated Liberia’s formal public education system and created a tremendous need for non-formal, accelerated learning opportunities for youths and young adults, especially former child soldiers. ALP condenses the normal primary school curriculum. With education as a priority from the beginning, the chances for a sustainable recovery in Liberia are greatly improved.

Back in her class at Elizabeth Tubman High School in Caldwell, Odell sits with her mostly much younger classmates.

“I really want to complete high school and become someone useful, and help develop my country,” she says. “I hope the ALP programme can help me speed up, and make up for all the lost years the Liberian civil war took away.”


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