Monrovia – USAID Liberia Mission Director, Sara Walter, has hailed national efforts to investigate and bring an end to human trafficking in Liberia. Speaking at a program in Monrovia to mark the Day of the African Child, Mission Director Walter said, “Over the past year, there has been an increase in the number of investigations of human trafficking and the number of child victims identified.” She attributed the increased investigations to the strong partnership between the Governments of Liberia and the United States to fight trafficking in persons, especially child trafficking. Despite the progress, she said more needs to be done to shine a light on the scourge of child labor in Liberia.
Earlier, the USAID Mission Director highlighted the United States Government’s efforts to provide Liberian children access to quality education. She noted, in particular, that over the last two years, USAID’s Read Liberia Activity designed to improve early grade reading skills has:
“Over the past year, there has been an increase in the number of investigations of human trafficking and the number of child victims identified.”Sara Walter, USAID Liberia Mission Director
• Reached more than 85,259 first and second grade students with the Read Liberia early grade reading curriculum;
• Trained nearly 2,000 teachers to deliver the curriculum; and
• Distributed more than 180,000 teaching and learning materials in 590 schools across the country.
She added that in collaboration with its Liberian partners, USAID is implementing a program called Accelerated Quality Education for Liberian Children (AQE), which benefits 8 to 15-year-old students who have either never attended school or dropped out of school early. AQE provides these students with basic numeracy and literacy skills and also helps prepare them to transition to formal schooling. To date, AQE has reached more than 63, 893 students in 277 classrooms; trained more than 1,229 teachers; and distributed more than 365,583 teaching and learning materials to students and teachers.
Ms. Walter also pointed to efforts by USAID to help Liberian families, particularly those with young children, deal with some of the adverse social and economic impact of COOVID-19. She said as part of a multi-donor initiative, USAID is providing support for emergency food parcels to more than 11,000 vulnerable students currently out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Organization of African Unity (now the African Union) instituted the Day of the African Child in 1991 to commemorate the massacre of hundreds of black South African school children on June 16, 1976 who were protesting the education policies of the Apartheid South African regime, which the students saw as oppressive and defective.
The program to mark the Day in Liberia was organized by UNICEF, ECOWAS, and the Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Protection. Held under the theme, “Access to child-friendly Justice in Africa,” the program brought together officials of the Government of Liberia as well as and representatives of other governments and various donor organizations.
The program was held at the United Nations Headquarters in Monrovia with many, including Mission Director Walter, participating virtually because of COVID-19 social distancing protocols.