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Plan helps Ivory Coast refugees in Liberia

Refugees from Ivory Coast 180

Liberian and Ivory Coast children in a Plan supported preschool

2 December, 2011: When the violence began last spring in Cote d'Ivoire, children were almost at the end of the school year. Fleeing for their lives, 140,000 refugees dropped everything to seek safety in Liberia. This cut the children from Ivory Coast’s school year short and left them no options for returning to education in September.

Plan works tirelessly to provide universal education for all children, across the world. After losing everything, returning to school is welcomed and helps re-establish a normal, daily routine.

“When I am in school I forget about the war and the bad things I saw. I feel good, just like home,” Adama, a young girl forced to relocate to Liberia with her sister after the violence broke out in the Ivory Coast.

Providing education and equipment

Plan Liberia’s emergency response programmes are targeting both Ivorian and Liberian children and youths (0-24 years old), focusing on child protection and education. Alongside non-formal primary education, Plan is also providing these children with regular youth study groups, sports activities, school equipment and early childhood care and development programmes.

Education is very important for children and their future. To facilitate learning and allow children to continue their education, Plan has distributed school materials including textbooks to the affected communities in Liberia.

Plan has also given school bags and supplies such as exercise books and pens to 5,000 refugee and Liberian children in impacted communities. With these simple supplies, children and teachers can continue with education within these communities.

When refugees started crossing the border into Liberia, Plan hoped to reach 25,000 children in those communities affected. Plan reached out to over this number of children, both from Cote d'Ivoire and Liberia, to help provide them protection and education.

“The work Plan is doing for these refugee children is invaluable. When they arrived in Liberia most if not all were traumatised, but through regular school attendance, many are now beginning to feel like normal happy children again. They play and learn and are able to express themselves while freeing their minds,” explains Dexter Sherill, Plan Liberia’s emergency response project coordinator.

Training teachers

Liberia is an English speaking country which means that most trained teachers do not have the skills and knowledge to teach the children from the Ivory Coast, who can only speak French or local languages of their country.

Plan has been supporting and training refugees from the Ivory Coast in how to teach. Training over 60 staff in teaching and early care development when the refugees first arrived in Liberia, Plan provided additional training to more people, to ensure all children had a sustainable access to protection and education.

Providing refugees with new skills, knowledge and ideas on how to teach children different subjects, the refugee children can continue with their education in their own language, making learning for them easier. These newly trained teachers also benefit, as they are no longer waiting passively, but they are active participants in their recovery.

“Education is so important in the life of a child. School is a normal environment for children and Plan is ensuring that refugee children have access to that,” Dexter Sherill says.


Read about Plan's priorities in Africa