An on-going problem for EducAid is how to help our youngsters achieve their potential when they finish school. EducAid runs schools not universities but clearly, to leave these bright young things at this point misses an amazing opportunity to have a greater impact on the country and to enable them to achieve all they are capable of.
Sometimes we get the offer of sponsorship from friends and visitors for some of our youngsters. We are very excited, for example, that 16 will start a distance (during the holidays!) teacher training course. We have a small number who have also got sponsorship to go to university to study engineering, medicine, accounting etc.
Just before the elections fees were fixed. Now, with the elections behind them, in most of the colleges the fees have been doubled. This is like a step back in time: an issue quoted as being the straw that broke the camels back was when President Momoh told the people in the early 90s that education was a privilege and not a right. This led to student protests that were eventually hijacked and militarised and the war began.
A sudden increases in the fees sends a clear message. Education is not for everyone. It has to be said that this is not a new message from government here but it is discouraging to see such blatant disregard for equality.
Young people who are not invested in, will become a burden to society.
In the last couple of weeks, we have had 5 of our students affected by the fee rises. For some, they are fortunate and their sponsors have been able to send the additional funds. For others, this is not the case.
e.g. Sumaila’s mother paid for his education until he got to the end of Junior Secondary School but then she died so that was the end of school for him until he found EducAid. Sumaila started at EducAid and quickly realised that with a system like ours he could really develop his thinking and learn well. He got excellent results in the public exams: EducAid came 2nd in the country and Sumaila came top in EducAid. He applied for medicine and has been awarded a place and a sponsor was found but with the sudden rise in fees, it looks as if he will not be able to take up his place. We are short by approximately £1200 per year. Sierra Leone is crying out for doctors with commitment to their country and willing to serve with integrity. How will we ever get them if this is how the potential doctors are treated?
If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid’s work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans please go to www.educaid.org.uk and www.sierraleonegirls.blogspot.com