Traditional school teaching, particularly evident in Sierra Leone, is a system of rote learning. Chalk and board classes do very little to engage students, nor do the teachers often understand the mechanics of the fundamental concepts that they are teaching. In most cases, on the part of the teachers, it is not a lack of will. More often the lack of quality teaching is borne out of poor training, and even a lack of quality education received.
What we have experienced is teachers who do not fully know or understand the syllabus, and compensate for this by simply not teaching their students the subject units they do not know. We regularly hear reports of students sitting their exams and facing subjects that they have simply never come across. That is why, on the first day of the year, every students at EducAid is issued the national curriculum. It is from there that our students begin our learning method of independent study.
EducAid’s learning system is most akin to a tertiary-level learning environment. First and foremost, our teachers begin with literacy and numeracy: ensuring that students have an understanding of these fundamentals is essential to ensure that they will be able to succeed at later levels of education. Our teaching staff will begin working through the syllabus by teaching the core topics to the group. Students are then provided access to the course materials. Each student is allowed to work through the syllabus at their own pace, choosing their modules as they go. They attend classes as in a usual school, but will work through the learning materials independently, seeking help from teachers as and when required. Subjects are broken down in to units, and we expect students to take a minimum of 2 internal unit tests per week. Students are permitted to pass on to the next unit if they achieve over 50%, and if they achieve over 70% they are considered to have passed that unit. One of the ways that we break from the traditional Sierra Leonean model of teaching is that students are allowed to take their learning materials away with them from class. We do not want to monopolise studying time, and you’ll often find students in corners of the school studying away in to the evening.