Sierra Leone wants to run classes six days a week to allow students to catch up after schools were closed for nine months because of Ebola.
The day will be longer for the new schedule that runs from Monday to Saturday, Mohammed Sillah Sesay, chairman of the committee in charge of reopening schools, said by phone Tuesday.
Classes resumed today for many of the nation’s 1.7 million students in Sierra Leone. President Ernest Bai Koroma closed public and private schools in July to reduce the chance of Ebola spreading there. The West African nation has struggled to eradicate the disease, which has killed more than 10,000 people since December 2013 in Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia.
The United Nations trained teachers to recognize students who may be infected and helped disinfect schools that were used as Ebola treatment centers. Children were encouraged to listen to UN-sponsored radio classes during the almost yearlong closure of schools.
Some schools, like Methodist Boys High School in the capital, Freetown, have still not open because they have not been disinfected. Some of the rooms were used to treat pregnant women with Ebola, said Emma Gloria Dupigny, one of Methodist’s principals, said.
Reports of teenage pregnancy and children who are working rose since classes were canceled last year, Wongani Grace Taulo, chief of education for Unicef Sierra Leone, said in an interview April 11. This will make it harder for students to return to school, she said.