Field Trip Looks at Poverty in Nearby Villages

Students from EduNations’ Senior Secondary School conducted a field trip to examine the causes of and solutions for poverty in neighboring communities. Taking advantage of February’s mid-term break, students journeyed during three days to observe signs of poverty in six different villages: Mabankra, Magbengbeh, Chindicom, Nonkoba, Maforay Bap, Maforay Kuna and Berembeh.

Signs of poverty started with poor sanitary conditions including poor toilet facilities and the absence of a fresh water supply which forces people to fetch water from streams which frequently dry up and also carry black fly larvae which cause “river blindness.” Also disturbing was the number of children with malnutrition stunted growth, walking naked in the village around dilapidated, pest-infested houses on dirt (or mud) roads. These accompany the following phenomena typical of subsistence-level village-living: high birth rate, early marriage, high unemployment and illiteracy rates, premature death and of course, no schools.

After their trip, students wrote essays with their suggestions on how they would work to solve these problems. Besides getting the students out of the classroom to engage in “real world” issues, the study helped them with critical thinking and problem solving to give them relevant experience for the future.

While some of these issues are beyond the scope of what EduNations does, we believe providing a quality education is the critical component which will enable progress in these other areas. With your support EduNations schools can continue ignite hope so that the next generations of Sierra Leone can see sustainable improvement.

Improving Student Performance

Before EduNations, young people in the provincial part of Sierra Leone were described as the most marginalized students in the country at large since they come from such poor communities and families. Parents simply don’t have the resources or ability to care for their children at home, let alone send them to school, and most of these children experience abuse, neglect, and poor living conditions, and a daily struggle to survive.

Coming from such conditions, it is natural that children coming to school for their first term are facing a very new situation with many challenges. And while some children adjust well, some others don’t perform well in their assessment after their first term. But this poor performance is just a signal these children need additional support in their second term from guidance counselling teachers in learning interventions coordinated through EduNations’ Psychosocial Coordinator.

Depending on the student, counselors choose among a variety of interventions including: new reading techniques, group studying, class exercises to be done in class, one-on-one time with slow learners, frequent home visits, focus on improved school attendance, engagement and motivational talks. Students are also taught about self-awareness and self-motivation: self-awareness talks focused on building on strengths and limitations and developing a well-grounded sense of confidence throughout the learning process; self-motivation talks focused on harnessing one’s ability, motions, thought and behavior to improve self-confidence towards the learning process.

The Psychosocial Coordinator also promotes the balance between in-class and out-of-class learning environments and the importance of incentives and rewards as an excellent source of motivation. Even small things like lollipops, doughnuts, or even a sticker on a paper can make students work harder and really aim to achieve.

Applying these time-tested strategies to help students improve makes a difference.  Teachers, support staff, and students work together to improve the performance of all students in our EduNations schools, and we will never give up on IGNITING HOPE.

EduNations’ School Meal Program

Sierra Leone had once been described as one of the hungriest countries in the world with 3 of 5 adults experiencing stomach ulcers due to severe, prolonged hunger during schooling. Struggling with subsistence level poverty, parents frequently don’t have the resources to provide meals for school-aged children. Without help, hungry children suffer stunted development and simply can’t learn as well as children who have been adequately fed.

This problem is especially difficult to solve for children attending boarding schools like EduNations’ new Senior Secondary School in Rokassa, where parents don’t live nearby and providing three meals-a-day for 140 students is a daunting challenge.  EduNations is especially grateful for the support of the people of Grace Community Church for providing funds to provide food for the children and to the creative stewardship of our staff so that each nutritious meal costs less than $1.00. The students are well fed and able to learn.

We continue to be thankful for how your donations built the school and for how the good people of Grace Community church have provided funds for the food. What once was just the dream of a thriving EduNations senior secondary school has become, with your generosity and God’s blessing, a reality.

Combatting School Dropout

Access to quality education, gaining entrance into high school, completing school, and winning a university degree is a dream for parents and school-going children/students. On a national level, it is widely accepted that the financial success of a people and the development of a nation depends on the quality and level of education broadly attained over a cumulative period.  

With such benefits to education, the consequences of a child not getting a quality education and completing school cannot be underestimated. There is strong evidence students who drop out of school face a much higher unemployment rate than those with a high school certificate or university degree. Unfortunately, for the decades since its civil war, Sierra Leone has experienced a high student drop-out rate, especially in rural communities.  

To give you an idea just how widespread the problem is, national and World Bank studies in 2013 and 2015 estimated that approximately 300,000 students drop out of school every year in Sierra Leone and that six out of ten of the drop-outs were female.

To respond to this problem, the government of Sierra Leone introduced the 2018 Free, Quality Education Project, a policy that provides free schooling for primary and secondary/high school education in the country and the provision of certain school materials for pupils in government and government-assisted schools. Though the figures are gradually reducing, the number of students, especially girls, dropping out of school is still alarming. Factors contributing to the high female drop-out rate include lack of access to education in remote communities, gender-based violence, sexual assault, teenage pregnancy, early marriage, and cultural factors like secret society initiation (including FGM).

Teenage pregnancy was, until a March 2020 court ruling, an effective bar to tens of thousands of girls finishing their education. Bolstering the court decision, the Economic Community of West African States court instructed Sierra Leone to establish nationwide programs to help pregnant girls return to school.

“Overturning the ban is the first step in building a radically inclusive Sierra Leone where all children – regardless of class, ethnicity, tribe, disability, location, gender, reproductive or parenting status – are able to live and learn in safety and dignity,” the education ministry said in a statement.  

EduNations schools provide a high-quality education for children in rural villages of Sierra Leone and the support to stay in school. Thank you for making this possible!