A New School Year
As of Monday, September 17, all EduNations Hope Academies are back in session! The 2017-2018 school year ended on July 20, 2018, allowing for a two-month summer break period for our students. During the break, many students joined their parents in their daily farm and garden work. Some of the students were able to take this time to travel to local cities and see family members. After a restful break, students were excited and ready to come back to school. Parents were pleased to send their students back with proper uniforms and school materials, thanks to all of EduNations’ generous donors. EduNations teachers expressed that they, too, are extremely excited to be back for another school year. One teacher said,
Thank God schools are now reopened. I missed my students but [now] they are back.
As the need for education is ever-increasing in Sierra Leone, our schools have continued to grow rapidly. This year, EduNations is providing free education to students from over thirty different villages through fourteen schools among six communities. Our enrollment has gone up by about ten percent, increasing from two-thousand four-hundred forty-eight students in 2017-2018 to two-thousand seven-hundred in 2018-2019. As a result, we have also hired new teachers for the new school year, bringing our total number of teachers to just over one-hundred. We are so excited about this growth and are thankful for God’s faithfulness throughout it all.
As in years past, we are educating children who fall in grades equivalent to Pre-Kindergarten through Ninth Grade. We have high hopes that we will be able to build the equivalent of a high school soon that will serve our older students as well. The curriculum being taught throughout all of our schools varies by grade level but all students are taught the basic core subjects including Mathematics, Writing, Science, Social Studies and Reading. Among those core subjects, students are also able to take elective courses such as Arts and Crafts, Business Studies, Home Economics, Physical and Health Education and Agricultural Science. Thank you to all of you who give so generously to support the education of under-resourced students. We are excited for another school year to serve the students in Sierra Leone so that they will be equipped for a bright future.
New School Supplies!
Thanks to all of our generous supporters, we raised about fifteen thousand dollars for school supplies for the 2018-2019 school year! Because of your generosity, EduNations has continued to keep up with the increasing demand of students who need free education. This year, we were able to provide all two-thousand seven-hundred students throughout our fourteen schools with free school supplies! Needless to say, the students are overjoyed with their brand-new school supplies and are excited to put them to use as the school year ramps up.
Just like in the U.S., school supplies are imperative for the Sierra Leonean students’ success in the classroom. Many of our students cannot afford these simple school supplies because they live in under-resourced communities and their families simply do not have the money. Our students received supplies such as rulers, textbooks, pencils, workbooks, and personal chalkboards. These supplies are the students’ own to keep and use to assist them in their studies. These supplies are necessary not only for the school day, but also for studying and doing homework in the evening on their own time. This is important because the students are required to pass mandatory national exams at the end of the school year to ensure that they are able to move onto the next grade level. If the students do not have the resources to study at home, it is likely that they will not pass these exams. We want to fully equip our students for success here at EduNations and we thank you for making that a priority through your generous giving!
Annual Teacher Training
As part of EduNations’ mission to train teachers for effective service in our schools, our annual teacher training was held this year in Mapainda. Ninety-eight teachers were trained for effective work in our fourteen schools for the academic year of 2018-2019.
The four-day workshop was divided into three sessions. The first session began with an introduction and welcome address by our President, Samuel Sesay. EduNations’ history, vision, mission and goals for 2018-2019 was then shared, followed by an introduction of all staff members. There was then a time for interaction among staff members so that they could get to know one another better and further understand the importance of communication. The second and third session focused on effective teaching skills, EduNations’ Code of Conduct and Financial Policy, and children’s rights.
Smaller, facilitated workshops and presentations were then conducted to allow all participants to enter into practical discussion. The teachers were split into two groups – Nursery Teachers and Primary and Secondary Teachers. The workshops revolved around topics such as National Social Security Insurance Trust (NASSIT), effective teaching methods, and obstacles facing teachers and administrators today.
Mr. Edwin Turay, a senior lecturer in the Education Department at the University of Ernest Bai Koroma, gave a presentation about learning disabilities where the following questions were discussed: What are learning difficulties and which types exist? How do you recognize these learning disabilities in your class? What responsibilities do you have as a teacher when you encounter a student with learning difficulties? Teachers were able to take part in a role play of example scenarios to recognize learners with difficulties in the classroom. This was a lighthearted activity but brought forth applicable lessons as well. The various contributions that a teacher makes to the learner’s education was also discussed. The instructors emphasized that teachers do not just teach; they also look at the individual differences between leaders, pay extra attention to learners when they know they need it, and give advice outside lesson hours. Topics such as preparation of lesson notes, principles of education, school administration and schooling records were also covered during the presentations.
This is what some teachers had to say about their training:
The training greatly expanded my understanding of mindfulness and gave me great understanding of how it can be used and taught to develop students’ self-awareness. ~Mr.Edward Kanu
Excellent workshop- learned a great deal and inspired to learn more. ~Mr. Thomas Lebbi
This is a manageable program with clear and progressive steps that is very doable in a high school classroom! ~ Mr.Kandeh K. Kamara
As EduNations continues to grow due to the pressing need for education in the rural villages, so does the need for new school buildings. The government in Sierra Leone requires that every school have a nursery school building for four and five year-old students to attend Kindergarten 1 (Pre-Kindergarten) and Kindergarten 2 (Kindergarten). Prior to this year, EduNations was using houses in the communities as substitutes for classrooms for young students in the villages of Fintonia and Makump. But over the summer, EduNations was finally able to build two new nursery school buildings to serve the students in these villages!
The nursery school buildings have two classrooms in order to accommodate both Kindergarten classes. Each classroom is able to hold forty students comfortably and is furnished with small, colorful tables and chairs. Both buildings also have a small office for the principal. We are so excited about these additions to the Fintonia and Makump EduNations Hope Academies so that our students can have a proper place to learn!
Changing Lives with a Kit
Days for Girls (DfG) is a project that prepares and distributes sustainable menstrual health solution kits to girls who would otherwise miss school during their monthly periods. After several visitations to all of the EduNations Hope Academies, our Psychosocial Coordinator, Fatu, discovered that menstruating girls were missing three to four days of school every month to control their period because they could not afford feminine hygiene products. This was affecting their success in the classroom because they were missing so much school each year. In response to this, Fatu developed an idea for a project where EduNations could help provide personal menstrual kits to our female students so they could continue their schooling with dignity.
With the help of our Development Coordinator and DonorSee, a platform that directly connects donors to various needs around the world, a plan was devised to distribute Days for Girls Personal Menstrual Kits (DfG Kits) to over three-hundred of our female students at EduNations. So far two-hundred forty-five girls have received these kits. The girls were so excited to receive these kits, which were completely new concepts to them, because they did not have to stay home from school for this reason anymore.
Parents were also very happy to see their daughters with the kits and thanked EduNations for their continuous support to these girls. One parent said,
Seeing my girl child hanging her kit monthly in the bathroom gives me so much joy and now my girl’s hygiene and dignity are being restored.
On behalf of the girls and the EduNations team, we would like to thank all those that have donated to help these girls restore their dignity and stay in school. A special thanks to DonorSee for supporting our work in Sierra Leone.
Many people in Sierra Leone today hold negative attitudes towards children with disabilities because of skewed beliefs and an overall lack of knowledge. Our Psychosocial Coordinator, Fatu, and other staff had the opportunity to learn more about disabilities when they were invited to a workshop held by an organization called Reformed Bible Institute (RBI). The workshop took place in the village of Rokassa and was led by two people from Kenya who run an organization that serves children with disabilities.
The workshop focused on what disability is, the different types of disabilities, causes of disabilities, prevention, and how to help children with disabilities in schools. Staff were then able to apply the lessons they learned at the workshop by looking at the following common disabilities in the EduNations community: Epilepsy, Albinism, Autism, Microcephalus, Hydrocephalus, hearing issues, eye problems, Down Syndrome, Clubfoot, and speech problems, among others.
After the workshop, Fatu said this:
As the Psychosocial Coordinator of EduNations, I am highly passionate about issues revolving around the rights of our students and I strive to learn more about these issues every day. Thanks to RBI and the leaders of this workshop, I learned that we currently have over twenty children with disabilities in our EduNations Hope Academies. These students are not doing well in school because they are not valued and accepted by their peers as they should be. If we want to serve these children better we must first begin an awareness campaign in all EduNations schools and communities to educate the other children, teachers, parents and community members about disability.
We are so thankful for this opportunity to learn more about disability and hope to implement these teachings among our entire EduNations community very soon!
Ebola Orphans Update
The devastating impact of Ebola in 2014 left over twelve-thousand orphans in Sierra Leone struggling without the support of adequate caregivers. After the Ebola outbreak, EduNations supported one-hundred Ebola orphans through the Sierra Leone Alliance, a group of organizations dedicated to poverty reduction and holistic development in Sierra Leone. A couple goals of the Ebola Orphan Support were to reintegrate these orphans to their extended family members and continue support of their education.
While most of these orphans have settled into families and are doing well, about twenty-three of them continue to struggle in many areas. EduNations has continued to engage these orphans, giving them free education, teaching and learning materials, and psycho-social support. Moreover, EduNations is also continuing support of orphans who have moved to other schools through the payment of tuition fees and the distribution of learning materials. We would like to thank everyone who has been praying for and supporting these orphans.