A new study on the impact of the Ebola outbreak on higher education institutions in Sierra Leone shows that impacts went wider than immediate needs. The study found that.
- Students lost at least nine months of studies
- There was an overall absence of basic mental health support systems to help them deal with this.
- The socio-economic/development impact of closing universities for nearly a year is a massive setback to longer term development.
- New digital technologies can help reduce the economic impacts on Sierra Leone and its students.
The new study shows universities and related organisations in Sierra Leone had no concrete action plan for devastating events such as Ebola. When the Ebola outbreak peaked, researchers found that all of the country’s 64,000 university students had their schooling disrupted for at least nine months. Condensed academic schedules and delayed graduation dates have yet to be normalised in many institutions. The report recommends developing distance learning programs and improving mental health and crisis planning, including financial planning to help cope with disruptions caused by such epidemics.