Significant Progress made on Rokassa JSS and SSS Project
In our September 2018 newsletter, we reported the urgent need for EduNations to provide Junior and Senior Secondary Schools in the village of Rokassa. We are thankful for two large contributions that covered the first phase of the project; one from an anonymous donor and the other from North Park Church in Pittsburgh, PA. We also praise God we can report the project is well underway!
The Need: in case you don’t recall, the rural village of Rokassa is in the Port Loko District in northwestern Sierra Leone where EduNations currently operates Kindergarten, Primary and Junior Secondary Schools within walking distance for many of the 37 smaller villages around Rokassa. However, Rokassa is about 40 miles from the nearest Senior Secondary School in Masiaka, much too far to walk, and about 100 miles from Sierra Leone’s capital, Freetown.
Project: The project proposed building a Junior and Senior Secondary School and boarding home in Rokassa. When it is completed, this school will provide a conducive learning home for 765 students from various rural communities.
Progress: After four months of hard work by a team of construction workers since breaking ground in January, we are pleased to report the concreting of the first floor of the entire building was completed in April. If this had not been done, the rainy season, starting in May, would have interfered with pouring concrete.
Achieving this goal required the commitment and cooperation of all the stakeholders of this project (EduNations Board of Directors, staff and teachers, construction workers, community members and students) and long hours of work by the construction team, including at night. The resilience of the workers and the cooperation of the community members of Rokassa and the nearby villages on the day of concrete pour was really admirable. Hundreds of men, women and children (including EduNations administrative staff from Freetown) and pastors carried buckets to fetch water for long uninterrupted hours as they added their own ‘sweat equity’ to make the dream into a reality.
Next Steps: While we are thankful for all this, they say in Portuguese, ‘a lutta contunua’ (the struggle continues). The construction workers are all back in time for the next phase – to raise the walls and set the stage to raise the roof! On June 24, 2019, a Golf Tournament and Dinner will be held in Sharon, PA to raise funds for this next phase. If you’d like to be part of this exciting next step, click here!
Thank you always for your continued support and prayers!
Samuel in the US!
EduNations’ President, Samuel Sesay, is in the United States! To see where you can connect with Samuel, click on the calendar below. If you have any questions, feel free to contact Sarah Pietryga at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Timber Logging Impacts Fintonia
While Sierra Leone is known for its diamond industry, the multi-million dollar trade in lumber is one of the most rapidly growing businesses. However, while a minority are harvesting trees in an ethical and sustainable manner, the majority of firms – most of foreign ownership – are operating illegally, harming the environment, and not sharing the economic benefits fairly with landowners. For example, local tribal authorities had collaborated with Chinese businessmen in logging which left the forested area without tree roots to bind the earth; vulnerable to erosion, the rains swept away most of fertile topsoil, making it impossible for local villagers to farm or graze their livestock.
Fintonia, where EduNations operates schools, is one of the villages that has been affected by the lumber trade. Located twenty-two miles from the Sierra Leone – Guinea border, Fintonia is the center of the lower Tambaka chiefdom. Improved roads in the area make Fintonia the favored host town for many outlaw loggers from several countries and religious backgrounds. Lower Tambaka was recently re-established after an attempt to combine all of Tambaka under one chiefdom failed in just one year. A new paramount chief of lower Tambaka has yet to be elected and Fintonia’s Community Elders are facing significant challenges in governing.
As an example, the influx of the timber trade has made nighttime a frightening time for residents of Fintonia as loggers return in search of food, alcohol, and sometimes trouble. With so many loggers looking for a place to sleep, there is a serious shortage of lodging. EduNations staff has had to chase them out of our classrooms at night several times.
As you might imagine, the presence of the loggers is a disturbing influence for EduNations schools, as well. Some secondary school boys are tempted to abandon school when they see boys their age from other villages earning cash by serving as laborers in the loading and offloading of timber from vehicles. Secondary school girls are also negatively affected, either by outright abuse by older loggers, or by being tempted into promiscuity by loggers with ready cash. These temptations are especially keen since Sierra Leone is one of the poorest nations in the world, despite possessing a wealth of mineral resources.
We would appreciate your prayers for this situation – that EduNations school heads will encourage their students to resist temptation and complete school, that the Fintonia Community Elders be given wisdom and ability to govern in such challenging circumstances, and that harvesting of timber resources in Sierra Leone be done in a sustainable way which honors the land and benefits the people.
New Opportunity for Sponsors!
Are you a current EduNations Student Sponsor? We have an exciting new opportunity for you to communicate with your student! There is a new page on our EduNations.org website specifically for current sponsors to learn more about how you can support your student and most importantly, send a greeting to your student.
A greeting from their sponsor is so exciting for our students to receive. They value getting a note that encourages them to continue in their studies and to work hard to succeed. On the new website page specifically for sponsors, you will find an online form that will guide you through a questionnaire to help you share more about yourself and/or your family in a meaningful way. If you prefer, you can print out a letter template to fill out and return to our PO Box via mail. Your greetings will then be sent on to your student. Our new webpage provides links to all these opportunities.
Please consider sending your letter to us by June 24th, 2019 to ensure that they can be transported to Sierra Leone and distributed this summer. Thank you so much for your continued commitment to your student and for reaching out to them in this tangible way!
Have questions? Contact Beth Weaver at Beth@EduNations.org
EduNations Students Take National Primary School Exams
On May 11, almost one-hundred and fifty 6th-level EduNations students participated in the end-of-year 2019 National Primary School Exams (NPSE). This exam is critical in a student’s progress since passing it qualifies students to enter Junior Secondary School, and failing means having to repeat 6th level.
Preparation: While EduNations schools consistently call for a high standard of quality in students’ academic work performance throughout the year, there are special preparations to give students the best chance to pass. For example, during the year’s studies students undergo several assessments culminating with a mock final exam. The mock finals give students valuable experience with a similar examination, including the exam format, timing, and required conduct. In this year’s practice final, EduNations’ school heads experimented by serving as examination supervisors and marking tests for EduNations students from another village.
Before the actual exams, students are each assigned to a particular testing location. For this year’s exams, EduNations students were assigned to test centers 10-15 miles from their home villages, so the students used the day prior to the test to travel, prepare their uniforms, polish their shoes, and attend to their appearance to represent their schools as honourably as possible. As it is said, “cleanliness is next to Godliness!”
Test Day: “D-day” for the actual testing was Saturday May 11th, 2019 as the West African Examination Council conducted the exams in centers across Sierra Leone. EduNations school heads stated that all our registered students reported to their assigned examination centers promptly at 7:30 am after having had morning devotions and prayers asking for God’s help in representing themselves well in the exam.
Before the exams commenced, a general assembly admonished students to be confident as they engaged the examination and to take ownership of their own success. At 8:00 am sharp, the exams began with a “Quantitative Aptitude” mathematics exam. After the second test, the students were given a break during which one EduNations student said,
I am thankful for the mock final exam! Why? It guided me, took away my fears, and gave me confidence for today’s exams. Now I am sure of going through the other tests and passing with high grades.
The NPSE examination concluded at 3:00pm when the final bell rang and students were asked to drop their pens, pack their belongings, and leave the exam hall.
EduNations’ school heads were gratified to see expressions of confidence and joy on their students’ faces as they left. Students returned home singing and praising God that they had completed their first public examinations and were received in their various communities with joy for a job well done.
Students who took the exam will be notified in September whether they will advance to Junior Secondary School. Based on previous results, almost all the EduNations students will pass thanks to your support.