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Education for all

Over the past two decades, Sierra Leone has made remarkable progress in its efforts to rebuild its education system.

Project Sierra Leone secondary education improvement programme

ClientDepartment for International Development Financial Management Group

ExpertiseProgramme management, traditional consultancy

Years of civil war had destroyed schools and too few teachers remained. The Ebola epidemic in 2005-2006 exacerbated the situation, with many schools forced to close for extended periods, fuelling an increase in the number of students dropping out. Leh wi Lan (Let us learn) is a five-year UK aid-funded programme aimed at supporting the Ministry of Education to achieve sustained improvement in secondary grade learning outcomes, particularly for girls and children with disabilities. The programme focuses on making schools safe for girls, improving learning conditions in classes for both genders, strengthening central and district capacity and improving monitoring and evaluation. In just one year, the number of both girls and boys passing their exams exceeded the final programme targets. We’ve also helped to recruit 200 learning coaches to support almost 7000 teachers across the country to implement better English and maths lesson plans.

School retention rates for girls drop drastically as they get older due to complex social and cultural barriers, including child marriage and sexual violence in schools. Relatively small numbers make it into senior secondary education. As part of the Leh wi Lan project and to help improve participation, 1200 junior secondary schools are implementing measures based on a Reducing Violence in School guide and providing hygiene kits for eligible girls. Several schools have hosted girls’ and boys’ clubs, peer learning spaces where students can access information about reducing and reporting violence, sexual health and other life skills. 

Our team assessed school WASH facilities in August 2019 and found that girls do not have access to safe sanitary facilities at school. We are now working with school management to provide safe and clean spaces for girls to be able to manage menstruation during school hours.

All special educational needs schools have been equipped with English pupil handbooks in braille, and options for providing children with disabilities with assistive devices are being investigated. By the end of 2019, 490 students have been tested for visual impairments across eight districts. Seventeen special radio programmes for students have been produced and we are scaling up to introduction of radios in every school.  

Leh wi Lan put in place a new monitoring and reporting system to record lesson observations, provide feedback and identify the best teachers, as well as to evaluate attendance. The programme continues to build on the lessons learned so far to hold schools and teachers to greater account and enable them to improve levels of support for disadvantaged children. 

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