EduNations Reopens Schools!
It was a great joy on October 5th for EduNations to report all schools open and back to in-classroom instruction. Although it seems like much longer than six months ago, the government of Sierra Leone closed down all schools in the country on March 31st due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This closure ushered EduNations into a season of extraordinary flexibility in order to continue to serve its students, their families, and their communities.
When schools were shut down, EduNations’ schools were mid school year with a special focus on preparing students for the end-of-year exams, which are so important for their educational success in Sierra Leone. This year, EduNations was prepping one-hundred-fifty 6th grade students to take the National Primary School Examinations (which must be passed to enter Junior Secondary School) and one hundred-thirty-eight 9th grade students to take the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (which must be passed to enter Senior Secondary School).
In the USA, one could expect parents to assume some teaching role in the absence of school. In rural Sierra Leone however, almost all students are the first generation in their family to attend school, so there is simply no one able to help children study. What to do? EduNations quickly developed a home-schooling program, visiting each child in their home to teach while still maintaining all the social-distancing and personal sanitation practices. The home-schooling program kept students moving forward and was a great demonstration of EduNations’ commitment to its students’ success.
While the home-schooling program worked well in many ways, it was never the same as the normal school and classroom setting which worked best for both students and teachers. Recognizing the benefits and believing schools could manage the risks, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Schools asked all candidates to return to school to prepare for and write their exams.
Since then, with no reported COVID-19 cases in all the schools across the country, we were delighted at the announcement for all schools to reopen and for all staff and students to return to school on October 5, 2020.
Of course, EduNations staff and students are thankful for the ongoing support of donors and the Board of Directors which has allowed us to get all the necessary supplies – including thermometers, hand washing facilities, face masks – to commence the school year. EduNations was also able to provide school supplies to all students as they returned back to the classroom. As one of our teachers put it, “we are just so happy to be back in this environment with our students.”
We are excited to announce this year’s EduNations Benefit Concert featuring Michael Card and Jeremy Casella! Join us for this annual evening of music that makes a difference on December 4, 2020 at 7:00 PM (EST).
In an effort to keep everyone safe, this year’s concert will be offered as a hybrid version, with both in-person seating at Memorial Park Church and online attendance available. Seating is limited, so in-person tickets will be sold this year for $50/person or $75/couple. Online attendance is free of charge. Ticket sales will open soon – stay tuned!
EduNations 6th Grade Students Shine in NPSE Exams
While final exams are a major concern for all students, some are especially important since they determine whether a student is even permitted to continue attending school.
For example, 6th-grade pupils in Sierra Leone must pass the National Primary School Examination (NPSE) in order to be promoted to Junior Secondary School. In order to pass, students must earn at least 230 out of a possible 500-points, but EduNations’ teachers always encourage students to aim for the best score possible, with a score over 300 a notable achievement. Setting high goals is not only a core value in EduNations’ culture of excellence, but also especially important with national exams since each student’s test score may determine available career choices.
We are especially happy to report that despite the many challenges of education during the COVID-19 pandemic, EduNations student results were the best results ever! With 134 pupils taking the exam, 25 students surpassed the aspiration to score over 300, 39 scored over 290, and 114 scored over 230. As you can imagine, our students, their families, and our teachers are very proud.
This “best ever” performance came at a time when it was least expected since educational systems worldwide have been challenged by school closures and other efforts to limit the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. While Sierra Leone’s government attempted to make up for school closures by offering school instruction by radio, this was of no benefit in the remote villages served by EduNations schools since almost none of the families own radios!
Not to be daunted, EduNations developed a home teaching program where teachers went to students’ homes to teach through the syllabus for the NPSE. We are grateful that your support, the efforts of EduNations’ very committed teachers and students, and God’s blessing led to a result we could never have anticipated.
Rokassa Nursery and Primary Schools Get Much Needed Maintenance
EduNations Hope Academy Nursery and Primary School Rokassa have been a wonderful facility for hundreds of children, and as time flies, it is hard to believe these were built over seven years ago! Those years of near equatorial sun and torrential rains have taken their toll on the building, so much so that by the end of the 2019-2020 academic year the schools needed extensive maintenance.
We are very pleased to report that roofs and drainage were repaired to weather the rainy seasons, student and staff toilet facilities were repaired, classroom floors refinished, and interior and exterior walls received fresh paint to restore the schools to their original appearance.
The extensive work was the result of a lot of planning as well as a competitive bidding process to select the best proposal and contractor. It also involved a lot of cooperation between EduNations staff, the contractor, and community members to head-off any problems during the work.
The five weeks of renovation has left EduNations Hope Academy Nursery and Primary School with beautiful buildings freshly ready to accommodate their growing number of students. As you might image, the projects have had profound effects on students, teachers and administration as the improved conditions reflect the students’ hope for their lives.
Thank you again to the donors who responded to the request for special funds to make this important maintenance and rehabilitation possible to make a brighter future for the children of Rokassa.