As part of efforts to ensure children continue learning in the midst of the COVID19 outbreak and closure of schools, KEEP has begun distributing mobile phones to families. The distribution is occurring initially in Montserrado and Gbarpolu Counties and will later go to its other counties of operations.
Over the next two weeks, a total of 500 phones are being given to needy families, at no cost to them, for use of their children. With the phones, these children can now participate in the Ministry of Education Learning By Radio Programs, which is currently ongoing.
Based on the initial feedback from the beneficiary families, many of whom cannot afford to acquire a phone for their children, we have realized that many parents were unaware of the Learning By Radio Program being offered across several radio stations. Sadly also, too many of our children across many rural communities are being left behind.
The programs cover all subjects and airs daily on ELBC, ECOWAS Radio, City FM, KOOL FM, Kings FM, Hot FM and Truth FM stations.
Our informal survey with parents across the communities we serve also revealed that most homes do not have radios. The few that do, are not keen on giving the children access for several hours a day to listen in to the educational programs.
The phones can be used to other important effects for the children. Promoting a culture of reading, KEEP will soon launch its reading drama series across several media institutions. These phones will enable students to listen in and participate while receive messages designed for their safety and wellness.
Finally, we hope the phones will also serve as empowering medium for children to report cases of abuse or violence against them. Volunteers and members of the KEEP Team will conduct weekly check-ins on the students to obtain feedback on their learning progress and use of the phones.
Each phone is being distributed along with copies of the Ministry of Education Program Schedule as well as guidelines for the use of the phone. This should hep parents monitor their children educational participation and progress as well as possible abuse of the phones. Children protection measures are also carefully explained to each family prior to the receipt of a phone.
The phone initiative is in addition to other activities KEEP has been engaged in under the restrictions of the COVID19 outbreak. These include broadcasting radio jingles of public health and preventive measures targeting children, KEEP Reading Storytelling Hour which is aired on Tamma TV (Satcom Channel 2), and the KEEP Reading Book Lending Program ongoing from some of our reading rooms. KEEP has also produced video awareness messages on COVID19 for children.