Educating Against Ebola

With thousands of schools closed in an effort to stem the spread of Ebola, five million boys and girls have been left without any means of advancing their educations. But a report by educational and health-care experts has found that reopening “safe schools” could be a far more effective way to combat the spread of the disease.

LONDON – This year’s Nobel Peace Prize winners, Malala Yousafzai and Kailash Satyarthi, who will collect their award in Oslo on Wednesday, have joined an urgent appeal to create safe schools in the three countries most affected by the ongoing Ebola outbreak: Liberia, Guinea, and Sierra Leone. With thousands of schools closed in an effort to stem the spread of the virus, five million boys and girls have been left without any means of advancing their education. But a new investigation of Ebola, conducted by education experts and health professionals with the support of the Global Business Coalition for Education, has found that reopening “safe schools” could be a far more effective way to combat the disease.

The resulting report, produced in collaboration with A World At School, identifies the components of the safe schools of the future: adequate public-health training for teachers, twice-daily body-temperature checks for children, education programs on health and Ebola transmission, and hearty, nutrient-rich meals to build up children’s resistance. Given the affordability of these measures, there is no excuse to delay implementation.

The report also calls upon policymakers to integrate health and education policy more closely. That would not only help to end the current epidemic; it would also aid in the fight against poverty and thus help to prevent the emergence of epidemics in the future.

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