EduNations Students Benefit from Government Initiative
Sierra Leone was home to the first higher education institution in West Africa starting in the 19th century. However, in more recent history this proud legacy was tarnished as education lost its priority, especially during the civil war from 1991 to 2002. After the civil war, a small group of families from the USA who had adopted children from Sierra Leone formed an organization called EduNations because of their desire to help Sierra Leone recover from the devastation of civil war. Recognizing the importance of education to the future of the country, EduNations began to establish schools in very remote communities, where children had no access to education. Over the last 15 years, EduNations has been blessed to where they now operate 15 schools in the villages of Rokassa, Gbenekoro, Fintonia, Mayatta, Mapainda and Makump. Students in all EduNations schools receive free school supplies and uniforms, teaching and learning materials, and most importantly, instruction from well-educated and fully qualified teachers.
In August 2018, the Sierra Leone government, under the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio, launched the “Free, Quality Education Initiative.” The government program provided teaching and learning materials, with an initial emphasis on English Language and Mathematics textbooks, to all Junior Secondary Schools in the country. It also ensured the payment of fees to subsidize schools and public examinations such as the National Primary School Examination (NPSE), Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and West Africa Senior Secondary School Examination (WASSCE).
EduNations is registered and cooperates with various ministries in Sierra Leone, including the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Deputy Directors of Education and Teacher Supervisors. Periodically, School Inspectors have visited EduNations’ schools and have sent very good reports to their Deputy Directors of Education. These reports to the Ministry of Education have qualified all EduNations schools to be recognized and approved to benefit from the Free, Quality Education Initiative.
How has EduNations benefited from this initiative? The government of Sierra Leone has provided a variety of school supplies and paid to help subsidize the operations of five of our schools: Rokassa Primary School, Fintonia Primary School, Mayatta Primary School, Mapainda Primary School and Mapainda Junior Secondary School. In fact, all of our five Primary Schools have received supplies of textbooks, school registers, tins of blackboard renovators, and other basic school materials. Junior Secondary Schools in Gbenekoro, Mapainda, and Fintonia have also received core textbooks of English and Mathematics.
One of the beneficiaries of these materials at our schools said, “Finally my educational goal is fully completed! EduNations has provided free school materials and qualified and committed teachers and the government of Sierra Leone has provided my core text books.”
With the support from both the Sierra Leone government and our committed donors, EduNations can be even more passionate about providing a free and quality education for our students. Knowing that education is key to development and sustainability, EduNations is thankful for the support which makes our work possible. We thank God for the generous support of our donors who make our schools some of the best in Sierra Leone!
Computer Training for Heads of EduNations Schools
While computer literacy may seem to be a universal skill in developed countries, it is much less common in underdeveloped countries like Sierra Leone. Since so much work is made easier by computers, the lack of access to computers and low level of computer literacy is an impediment to the modern education.
The heads of EduNations schools have had to use pen and paper to write official letters and have had to write exam questions on the black board. In instances when they were required to present typed and printed documents, they have had to travel miles to pay someone to type and print the documents.
In the face of these challenges, EduNations has been blessed with the generosity of North Park Church, who has offered to supply all our heads of schools with computers. In addition to the fourteen computers that will be donated in July, North Park Church will be sending a computer expert to teach them how to use these computers in school administration.
To support the effectiveness of the expert training in school administration, introductory training is being provided to all head teachers prior to North Park Church’s visit. The computer training is provided in Makeni, the regional headquarters, and all the head teachers are attending this training for three days every month. To minimize unnecessary travel, the all-day training sessions will be conducted at the same time the heads of schools are expected to collect salaries for their schools. The training will continue for six months, at the end of which we are hopeful the heads of schools shall have the basic understanding of using a computer. With this, the teachers will be able to learns the basics of computers while still functioning as heads of schools. In response to the training, one of the Head Teachers exclaimed this:
I have never touched the mouse of a computer, it is truly a blessing for me to use a computer.
It is indeed a great blessing that our EduNations staff will be empowered to carry out their administrative work using an automated system. Administrative duties will be able to be completed more quickly, resources managed more efficiently, and exams administered in an advanced way. We are grateful to North Park Church for allowing us to take this big step forward!
Board Member Making a Difference
Congratulations to EduNations’ very own board member, Dr. Steven Little, on receiving the Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award on February 22, 2019. The Chancellor’s Distinguished Public Service Award annually recognizes outstanding public service contributions by members of the University of Pittsburgh’s faculty. Up to five awardees may be chosen annually. Each award consists of a cash prize to the faculty member of $2,000 and a grant of $3,000 to support the faculty member’s public service activities. All awardees are honored publicly.
According to University of Pittsburgh, Steve, the Professor and Chair of the Department of Chemical and Petroleum Engineering in University of Pittsburgh’s Swanson School of Engineering, implemented a public service component into two undergraduate core courses. In addition, he has worked with students in the department’s Graduate Student Association to develop an impressive variety of public service projects.
Steve is also a committed member of EduNations’ Board of Directors. Apart from his involvement in formulating organization policies to effectively administer the operations of the organization in Sierra Leone, Steve’s academic background has provided a voice that emphasized the need to remain committed to providing a sound and efficient approach to pedagogy and curriculum development. This has greatly contributed to the high success rate of EduNations’ students in school assessments.
President of EduNations, Samuel Sesay, also said this about Dr. Steven Little:
“Perhaps the most resounding impact that Dr. Steven R. Little had on me personally, the work of EduNations Inc and Sierra Leone in general was when the Ebola Virus epidemic broke out in Sierra Leone in 2014 – 2015. At a time when my family and many others had fled the country because of the epidemic and I contemplated leaving the country or not, Dr. Steve Little reminded me that my country needed me more at that time than any other time. Besides the reminder, using his academic knowledge and experience, Dr. Little went through with me the basic systematic guidelines on how to protect oneself from viruses like Ebola and how to care for myself should I became infected. This information was hugely instrumental in my decision to stay in the country and to actively participate in breaking the chain of transmission thereby leading to the end of the Ebola crisis. My role, that of the board members and EduNations was hugely recognized by the leading responders during the crisis. More strikingly was when Dr. Steven Little made a visit to Sierra Leone during the crisis. In this visit, Dr. Steven personally reinforced the guidelines he shared with me, listened to me and many Sierra Leoneans as we shared our stories and visited holding centers to get a first-hand experience. At a time when 99% of Sierra Leoneans wanted to leave the country due to the crisis, Dr. Little came to demonstrate his love for humanity, even for the least of these in the far ends of the earth.”
Thank you for all that you do for your local and global community, Steve!
Community Meeting in Gbenekoro Encourages Girls to Finish School
School drop-out, teenage pregnancy, and youth marriage are common nationwide problems in Sierra Leone. According to the country’s demographic and health survey, 13 percent of girls are married by their 15th birthday and 39 percent of girls before their 18th birthday.
In most rural parts of the country, traditions, beliefs, culture and religion have contributed to these issues. In some parts of the country, parents will not allow their children to attend school, especially if they are Muslims and the school is a Christian school.
Some groups in Sierra Leone believe that education is not important for female children. Other groups prefer sending their children to mine sites or farms because they think it will help them become rich faster as education takes a long time.
In Koinadugu district in the North of Sierra Leone, these beliefs and traditions are a stronger impediment to education than in other districts. In one of the villages in the Koinadugu district, Gbenekoro, EduNations is operating a Junior Secondary School and assisting the only government primary school there (which previously had only 2 teachers from 1st to 6th grades). Due to their high value for their culture and religious practices over education, EduNations has faced many challenges with teenage pregnancy, school dropout and early marriage in this area.
In trying to address these challenges, EduNations Psychosocial Coordinator, Fatu Koroma, recently visited the Honorable Paramount Chief of Shengbe Chiefdom in Kabala, Chief Alie Balasama Marah the 3rd, because his Chiefdom includes Gebenekoro. Learning that the Paramount Chief (PC) used to live in the United States of America, Fatu realized that an audience with him might lead to a breakthrough. In February, Fatu was very pleased that the PC received her warmly and listened with interest to her requests for support.
After reviewing all of EduNations’ operations in Gbenekoro and the serious challenges we are facing, the PC praised and thanked EduNations for all our good work, and promised to conduct a meeting with his people in Gbenekoro and their surroundings.
During the meeting on February 24th, all village leaders were present. The PC addressed his people about the following issues:
- Issues of religion: The PC stated that religion is different from education and that attending school has nothing to do with one’s faith. He is encouraging his people to send their children to school. Some of the parents who had withdrawn their children from the schools because EduNations’ schools are Christian, apologized and promised to send them back.
- Issues of teenage pregnancy and early marriage: The PC expressed that Honorable Paramount Chiefs are the ones that endorsed the Bill in Parliament to combat the issues of teenage pregnancy, early marriage and sexual assault of a minor and he does not want these issues to occur in his villages.
- Issue of students dropping out of school: The PC declared that anyone who decides to abandon schooling without any just cause will not be allowed in his chiefdom, especially when the government has introduced free and quality education. He encouraged parents and community elders to send their children back to school with immediate effect.
The Honorable Paramount Chief Alie Balasama Marah the 3rd lastly encouraged his people to embrace development, especially education, affirming that education is the only tool that can eradicate poverty and give them a better life.
EduNations is very grateful for the support that our mission has received from the Honorable Paramount Chief. It is our hope that the Chief’s support will catalyze the much-needed outcome and that the hope which EduNations has ignited in Gbenekoro would blaze into real transformation.
Samuel Sesay is Coming to the US!
EduNations’ President, Samuel Sesay, will be making his annual trip to the United States this summer! If you are hoping to request Samuel to visit or speak at your organization or church, please contact Sarah Pietryga at email@example.com or by phone at 412-522-4756.
15 Schools in 15 Years
Save the date to celebrate EduNations’ 15-year anniversary at Babeville, Asbury Hall in Buffalo, NY on Thursday, June 27, 2019! The evening will include hors d’oeuvres, drinks, and a presentation of our ongoing work to ignite hope in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Get your free tickets beginning in April.
Charitable Golf Tournament & Dinner
Please join us for the 2019 EduNations Charitable Golf Tournament & Dinner at Avalon Golf and Country Club.
We will have a great day of golf at this beautiful 18-hole course. For $125/person, the event will include a 4-person scramble with skill prizes, box lunch, silent auction of sports memorabilia with many other items, and awards dinner. The featured speaker will be Samuel Sesay, a missionary in Sierra Leone and the President of EduNations Inc.
Not a golfer? No problem! For only $25, you can join us at 6 PM for dinner and a presentation about the transforming work happening in Sierra Leone.
The goal of this tournament is to raise the roof of a secondary school in Rokassa, Sierra Leone. The fundraising goal of $50,000 will complete the construction of the two-story school building which will hold both the Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary schools.