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Unicorn In Captivity Essay

1702 words - 7 pages

Liberia is Africa's oldest republic, but the country became better known in the 1990’s for its violent civil war. The civil war began in 1989 and lasted for fourteen years, until 2003. An elected government was established in 2006 and Liberia began its road towards the realization of international human rights standards (“Human Rights Protection”). As a result of the war, over 250,000 people died and hundreds of thousands became refugees or displaced (“US Aid from American People”). The country was left in chaos with its government, infrastructure and economy completely destroyed. Liberia actually emerged as one of the poorest countries in the world. Currently, eighty four percent of ...view middle of the document...

One such goal is a universal primary education mandate by the year 2015 (Willams, Abraham). This goal is in serious jeopardy of being achieved.
In many regions of Liberia, children still do not attend school and few children pursue studies after primary school (Rivollet, Marie). Current challenges include the need for construction and restoration of schools, overcrowding, inadequate resources and lack of supplies and educational materials. Schools do not even have enough space for all the students and teachers to sit while learning. Additionally even though schools are supposedly “free”, families must incur the cost of uniforms, transportation and lunch. Many families are struggling already and are not in a position to afford these expenses (Williams, Abraham). Consequently, they do not send their children to school and in many cases, send them to work to help support the family.
Another human right violation is the physical treatment of children at school. There is no formal law that forbids bodily harm towards children at school. Many traditional and cultural practices still exist in schools that are not in the best interest of the students. One such practice is female genital mutilation. This practice is recognized as a violation as a human right violation against girls and women and is carried on with no law to prohibit this from happening (Rivollet, Marie)
Not only is providing a basic education a human right, education can also help transform the economy of Liberia. One estimate indicates that for every additional year of education it will add at least ten percent to a person's earnings. Additionally every dollar invested in education leads to a 15-fold increase in the Liberian Economy (“Liberia”). Clearly improving the educational system in Liberia will not only address a human right violation but can also help improve the economy.
With the rampant poverty and limited education, children are often forced on the streets to work to support their families. While the law prohibits the employment of children under the age of 16 during school hours, child labor is widespread in almost every economic sector (“2009 Human Rights Report”). In many cases, children are the breadwinners for their families, and there is no incentive for parents to send their children to school (Williams, Abraham).
A significant number of children leave home in the morning to work and then return home in the evening. Even more disturbing is many of these children live in the streets. The jobs children do consist of menial, dangerous and low paying jobs such as fetching water, washing dishes or tasks related to mining and agriculture. Some children sadly are used as children servants and prostitutes exposing them to long hours, isolation and sexual abuse (“Liberia”). Additionally, for those children who live in the streets, lack of education, healthcare, and nutrition further exposes them to poverty and exploitation (Rivollet, Marie).

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