|Let’s keep focused!|
Multiple, multiple changes to the academic year have had extraordinary knock on consequences for Sierra Leone’s children. To start with, during the whole Ebola crisis, students missed 8 months of schooling. This, in a country where academic standards tend to be horrendously low and education is itself already in crisis and has been for many decades, was a terrible blow. When schools finally reopened in April, we were given new term and public exam dates. They have changed several times but we have ended up with holidays through the rainy season: July and August to be swiftly followed by public exams – not sure of the logic on that but it seems to unnecessarily disadvantage children who are already very much on the back foot. These public exams are the gatekeepers to the next stage: a child who fails the National Primary School Examination can not proceed into Junior Secondary School. A child who fails the Basic Education Certificate Examination can not proceed into Senior Secondary School. This means that to avoid children dropping out of education completely, considerable efforts should be made to prepare the children well but how can this happen when schools are shut across the country for weeks and months at a time and then the exams positioned just after the break?
In the last couple of days, we have heard that the nationwide census will take place on 5th December and that all schools, colleges and other learning institutions will once again shut for 2 weeks. Why? Because the teachers will be employed by the authorities to undertake the census itself.
Every time schools shut the routine is lost, children get caught up in survival activities that take them away from their studies often forever, girls get pregnant, learning time is lost etc etc etc
To us, it is obvious that the solutions to Sierra Leone’s problems are nearly all to be found in protecting and investing in real education. Apparently, there are not so many who share our view…..
In EducAid, we have kept our exam students engaged throughout all the other school shutdowns and have worked hard to protect all the children’s chances of achieving their full potential. They are in the small, lucky minority.
If you are interested in finding out more about EducAid’s work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to www.educaid.org.uk
If you are in a position to support our work, please go to the EducAid Donate page or https://mydonate.bt.com/charities/educaidsierraleone