Building Partnerships in Makeni
In July, EduNations moved its offices to the provincial capital of Makeni and much closer to its remote village schools. After having run out of Sierra Leone’s ocean-port capital city of Freetown for over 8 years, this will make travel to each of EduNations schools much easier and leave more time for working on education!
What might you want to know about Makeni? About 110 miles east of Freetown and with a population of over 110,000, Makeni is the 5th largest city in Sierra Leone and the capital of the Bombali District. Besides being the largest city and economic center of the Northern Province, it is also home to the University of Makeni, the largest private university in Sierra Leone.
Since cooperation is a key to long term success, we have set out to build strong partnerships with the regional and district council executives. We have also identified nonprofit organizations with similar missions and we are slowly establishing relationships that can benefit EduNations and the local communities. The process has been slowed by COVID-19 related lockdowns, quarantines, isolations, social distancing, and the realities of working from home, however, we are making progress.
In the coming weeks and months, we will continue to work toward strong cooperation in both public and private sectors to improve providing the most important ingredient for socio-economic development – a quality education for the young people and future leaders of Sierra Leone.
Annual Golf Tournament Raises Over $33,000!
On September 21, 2020, 66 golfers and many volunteers gathered at Avalon Golf and Country Club for EduNations’ 2nd annual golf tournament. Since this year’s event took place later in the year, we had a beautiful day with temperatures in the 60’s, blue skies, and sunshine. The golfers enjoyed this friendly competition, which was played in a “best ball” format.
Last year, we were able to hold a banquet dinner and silent auction after the tournament but due to COVID-19, we were not able to host a dinner this year. Instead of our typical dinner and silent auction, we held our first week-long online silent auction. Over 50 unique items were auctioned off this year, including week-long getaways, sports memorabilia, handcrafted artisan items, themed gift baskets, foursomes of golf, and more!
This year’s golf tournament and silent auction raised funds for the grand opening of our brand new Senior Secondary Boarding School. Thanks to the generosity of all who attended last year’s event, we were able to “Raise the Roof” of this school and construction was officially completed this past summer! This January, we will open the school to our first class of high school students, who will leave their home village to come to the village of Rokassa, where we will provide an education, living arrangements, and three meals a day.
This year, between the golf tournament and the silent auction, we were able to raise over $33,000! We look forward to seeing the joy on our high school students’ faces as they begin their senior secondary education this January. On behalf of our board, staff, teachers, and students, TENKI!
9th Grade Students Take Basic Education Certificate Examinations
Every year, students who complete the third year of Junior Secondary School take the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE). Not only does passing the exam mark an important educational milestone, but it’s also a requirement before a student can be admitted to Senior Secondary School (parallel to high school in the USA).
Normally, this exam is held in July every year. However, the COVID pandemic forced several reschedules, and the exam started on the 14th and ended on the 22nd of September.
Even in the midst of COVID-19 district and country-wide lockdowns, EduNations was able to secure vehicles passes for staff travel to implement an instruction at home program to prepare students for the upcoming external exams. Although the Sierra Leone government provided instruction via television and radio broadcasts, the children in the remote villages where EduNations has schools simply couldn’t receive these broadcasts. So EduNations teachers literally went the extra mile to each student’s home to make sure they had the best chance of not just passing but excelling at their test. The instruction also included mock exams to ease students’ nerves. Before the exam, EduNations provided all necessary supplies, including mathematical sets, 2B pencils, pens and rulers, and COVID-19 facemasks.
As a result of their EduNations education over the years and the preparations, the students were enthusiastic and confident in approaching the exams. One student said, “I am happy we returned to school and made up for the lost time. Now our teachers have prepared us for Basic Education Certificate Examination, the exams that will lead us into senior secondary school. Rokassa Senior Secondary School here we come!!! Everything new: buildings new, furniture new, beds new, chairs and tables new, plates and spoons new, teachers new and a new spirit.”
We’ll look forward to reporting on the students’ results in upcoming newsletters.
EduNations Microfinance Donates $10,500 to New School
EduNations Microfinance was established in 2017 as a key sustainability project to provide affordable micro loans to low income earners in the northern province of Sierra Leone. Since it started with an initial investment of $30,000, we have seen an increase in the number of clients operating profitable businesses and, thanks to generous donors, an increase in donated equity to $37,500 and a portfolio of $60,000 at the end of it’s financial year in June 2020.
Due to its success, the EduNations Microfinance was able to donate an amount of 10 million Leones (~$10,500) toward the operations of the newly established EduNations Senior Secondary School in Rokassa. This contribution marks the first time for funding from Sierra Leone, a big step towards self-sustainability.
Our hope is that by 2025 EduNations Microfinance will be able to support the operation of EduNations schools in Sierra Leone to a significant extent while the loans continue to build prosperity and self-sufficiency amongst the people in the communities. Thanks to those who have contributed or are considering contributing additional capital that will make this possible.
Recruiting and Training Teachers for the New School Year
Anticipating the start of the new Senior Secondary School at Rokassa, EduNations advertisements for new teachers resulted in many applications from experienced teachers. The applicants were screened and only the most qualified were selected for an interview process including theoretical and practical tests, as well as observation of their teaching. The best of the most qualified applicants received offers of teaching positions.
To provide support for a successful school year, EduNations held a New Teachers Orientation (NTO) on September 9th at the Makeni central office. In normal years, the NTO invites new and old teachers to meet with administration staff for meetings over four days. However, with COVID-19 pandemic safety precautions, this year’s NTO was concentrated into one day with a focus on integrating new teachers into EduNations mission and vision, systems and operations.
After the orientation, one new teacher said: “I am now confident to start my work….I want to assure my colleagues at EduNations that I will not disappoint them.” This teacher went on to say EduNations’ training and orientation was the best she had experienced in her career involving several schools.
Both new and old staff are excited about fulfilling EduNations mission to bringing the best quality education to children of rural Sierra Leone in the 2020-21 school year.