EducAid has always been focussed on the impact of the change we make rather than on the number of people that we work with. We would prefer to have a major impact on a few than to have a minor impact on many; it is our vision to create a democratic, dignified and prosperous Sierra Leone, where poverty is eliminated by educated citizens. We develop our programmes to ensure that we are focussing our efforts and resources best to achieve this.
EducAid set out to achieve a list of objectives from its inception. As we have developed – from 20 students gathered under a tree in 2000, to a full-scale primary through tertiary educational network – we have refined and developed these objectives. The objectives, which are also our values, directly tackle the biggest challenges that Sierra Leone faces in achieving the vision that we have set ourselves, and they are addressed in every programme that we undertake. They are:
- Pursuing Excellence
- Building Equality
- Developing Leadership Thinking & Behaviour
- Developing Citizenship Values
- Building Community Resilience
- Ensuring Safety For all
SK, Deputy Site Coordinator at Maronka, was named by our Country Director, Miriam Mason-Sesay, as EducAidian of the Month for March 2017. Some time ago, SK wrote a report on what his site are doing to ensure EducAid achieves its values, focussing on 4 of the 6, and also provides a fascinating commentary on what these values actually mean to EducAidians.
As we all believe that academic performance is what you have shown you can do in a certain subject, ability is what you can do given ideal circumstances. You can think of it being internal and hidden until you show what a student can do with his or her performance. Performance is an external indicator – it’s what we can see. For instance, a student that freaks out when he or she has to take a test, may bomb it as a result of being nervous and have poor performance, even though they knew the materials and had the. Academic excellence is a truly comprehensive learning centre for students designed to meet each child’s specific needs, whether academic, social or emotional.
We have started with our subject tutoring programme which provides private or group tutoring in all subjects on both an enrichment and remedial basis. We complement this with our standardised test preparation. The backbone of our tutoring centre is our teachers. All team members are certified teachers from our area and many of whom already know the students, as well as their strengths and weaknesses. We recognise that in some cases a student’s academic performance may be linked to other cognitive, social or emotional needs. To address these issues, we developed our counselling division which is equipped with many bespoke skills. Our team members are, therefore, not only there to provide diagnosis and assessment on an individual basis, but we all offer classes in areas such as social skills and parents coaching to help family leaders build a supportive environment in their homes.
Building and ensuring equality has to deal with both boys and girls as well as men and women. For this month we talked on a situation where in the organisation needs to establish a policy that ensure both men and women compensated equally for performing the same work. Beyond equal pay for equal work, the policy should also ensure that both genders are treated equally in recruitment, training, hiring and promotion. The organisation should also establish a policy that allows both men and women to balance their work lives and their personal lives. This is a guideline which would ensure that the organisation support the teachers’ pursuit of further education to advance their careers as well as family counselling, family time or other related efforts that assist employees in maintaining healthy and positive family relationships. In connection with this, we support the established policy that strictly and specifically forbids any form of sexual harassment.The policy and related, human resources procedure describe in detail the professional consequences that will result from harassment. This provides both teachers and students with an avenue for reporting such activity directly to the human resources department without fear of retribution. We also support the organisation’s work to ensure policies are non-discriminatory; the policy that applies to the organisation’s teachers also applies to all levels of the organisation’s management. Gender equality means nothing in the workplace if it is not followed to the letter by all management personnel. The organisation should allow the past pupils who are teachers to act as role models.
Developing Leadership Thinking & Behaviour:
We ensure teamwork and individuals are coached on critical thinking which enables leaders at all levels to understand the impact of their decisions within and outside of the organisation. We ensure both alignment with the organisational goals and accountability for result. We do work as a team/we create a room within our working environment to ensure individual’s strategic thinking, leading change, ability to create a vision and engage others around it. We tolerate and guide both teachers and students to have the thinking and abilities to inspire others in a positive way. As a result, we tell them that by taking responsibilities for their own critical thinking processes, they can take actions to analyse and adapt their approach to decisions making and problem-solving so that we put ourselves and the organisation in a much stronger position to lead and succeed.
Ensuring safety of all members of the school community:
Presently, we are keen to report and handle suspicious behaviours of unknown or unrecognised person in our area. However, we create safety procedures for all teachers, pupils and members of the community by having the safety committee crew who give us useful information on the safety committee notice board to remind all teachers, pupils and community members of how to be safe. Also, both mornings and night we ensure our pupils walk in groups to ensure their safety. We ensure we keep fire protection equipment available in our rooms. Moreover, we see that we follow the safety precautions in the organisation such as the code of conduct as a key tool for protection. Another area also we pay careful attention to is water safety. We see that we promote water safety and prevent our students of going to the streams unauthorised. We have created many plans to ensure safety in our working environment. As employees we make sure that we identify hazards in our working environment such as children going to teachers’ rooms, going to the bush without permission as well as to the streams. We take actions and steps to eliminate or minimise the hazards present in our community.
Thank you SK for your thoughts and your diligence towards addressing these key areas. EducAid does not only speak about our values, we design and run our programmes by them. If you think that these values are worth upholding, and will truly help to create a dignified, democratic Sierra Leone where poverty is eradicated by educated citizens then please consider supporting us: http://www.educaid.org.uk/support-us/donate/