Photo: Morgana Wingaard

Despite a strong commitment from the Government of Liberia to eliminate gender based violence and sexual abuse it is still a big problem for both girls and boys, especially in schools. Together with ministries and other organisations, IBIS has conducted a study of school-related gender based violence to get a scope of the problem and suggest possible solutions.

The title of the study is "Passing the Test" which refers to the practice of paying teachers with sex for a better grade. According to the study, almost 18% of school girls and just over 13% of school boys have been asked for sex from a teacher in order to get better grades. Many students suffer long-term consequences of the abuse taking place in schools and the wide belief in the prevalence of ‘sex for grades’ is leading to a lack of faith by students that the marks they receive reflect the quality of their work. The abuse can also cause students to drop out due to loss of concentration, pregnancy or concern from parents over their children's safety.

Suggestions on how to overcome the problem of sexual and gender related violence in Liberian schools focus on enforcement of the good framework that exists in the country through increased knowledge of existing laws and policies and closer collaboration between students, teachers and parents. One initiative that IBIS and partners have pushed for, is the development, implementation and enforcement of a Code of Conduct for teachers and school administrators. This joint effort has led to the realisation and printing of such a code.

The study was commissioned by a consortium comprising the Ministry of Education, the Ministry of Gender and Development, the Association of Liberian Universities, the Norwegian Refugee Council, Save the Children, Concern Worldwide, and IBIS.

Passing the Test - The Real Cost of Being a Student