Educate and Empower Children in 6 Rural Villages

by EduNations Inc.
Educate and Empower Children in 6 Rural Villages
Educate and Empower Children in 6 Rural Villages
Educate and Empower Children in 6 Rural Villages
Educate and Empower Children in 6 Rural Villages
Educate and Empower Children in 6 Rural Villages
Educate and Empower Children in 6 Rural Villages
Educate and Empower Children in 6 Rural Villages
Educate and Empower Children in 6 Rural Villages

Going beyond the classroom can be of great value in “igniting hope through education”, which is EduNations’ commitment to under-resourced children of Sierra Leone. First-hand new experiences can be inspirational experiences as students learn more about the world beyond their own villages, including the possibility of continuing their education to the college level.

With this in mind, EduNations’ Hope Academy Senior Secondary School administrators held on February 28th two tours of 40 students each to institutions of higher learning in Freetown and Bo. The Freetown group visited Fourah Bay College (FBC), the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) and Milton Margai College of Technology University while the Bo group visited the Canadian University of Modern Technology and Njala University’s Njala-Mokonda and Bo campuses.

Students were very excited and motivated to tour the schools and learn about their programs. One of the students said, “I admire the university girls pursuing professional courses and l want to be like them”. Other students said the only science-based careers they had known were in medicine (as a doctor or nurse), but now they learned about various engineering programs. Others said they enjoyed interacting with university authorities and are now confident to interact with them in the future. And as a bonus, students in the Njala tour said they saw the oldest bull in Sierra Leone, which just goes to show you never know what you’ll see or learn about when you get out of the classroom.

The institutions commended EduNations on having one of the best organized secondary school field trips they had ever seen. And students were inspired to see possibilities for their futures. It was so successful, administrators hope to make a similar trip every year.

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Crucial to the successful operation of our schools in Sierra Leone is the Education Secretary position, who oversees the curriculum and programs of all of the schools and acts as the liaison between our schools and the Sierra Leone government. Over the past several years, this position was filled by Reverend Hassan Koroma, who has done a fantastic job and greatly contributed to the success of our schools. As Rev. Hassan nears retirement, he decided to step back from his role as Education Secretary and take on the role of Principal of EduNations’ new Senior Secondary Boarding School.

Over the summer, EduNations took on the task of screening and interviewing candidates to fill this important role before the school year started up. Aftermuch thoughtful consideration, we were thrilled to offer the position to EduNations’ own Michael Turay, who previously served as the Principal of the Fintonia Junior Secondary School.

Michael Turay has worked with us since 2018, when we initially connected with him through a group called the Sierra Leone Fellowship of Evangelical Students. Michael was finishing up his university studies and had applied to be a teacher at our school. After a few interviews, we offered him a position as a mathematics and basic electronics teacher in Fintonia. Though it required Michael to relocate to a community far away from everything he knew, Michael accepted and happily began his career with us.

Michael Turay wasted no time in making a difference in Fintonia. He was quickly promoted to Principal of the Junior Secondary School due to his drive and commitment to the students and the village as a whole. By the end of his time as JSS Principal, Michael Turay had helped to make Fintonia JSS very competitive among the other schools in their district. One year, they even scored second highest in the Basic Education Certificate Exams (BECE) throughout the whole entire country of Sierra Leone!

EduNations is excited to have Michael Turay as our new Education Secretary. We know that he is committed to the mission of the organization and will work hard to continue to make a difference in Sierra Leone.

Congratulations, Michael!

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EduNations was founded following the devastation of the ten year ‘blood diamond’ civil war to try to help the uneducated children of Sierra Leone. Born out of such a dire situation, EduNations has had to remain focused in the pursuit of its vision and mission to provide a free education for children in the remote villages of Sierra Leone ever since it began working in 2004.

“Motivated by compassion for the least of these” EduNations gives poor children tangible reasons to hope. More than just teaching the ABCs, our schools serve as beacons of growth and learning in Sierra Leone. And since educating children enriches a community, which then strengthens a nation, we believe that helping to educate these children today, we are creating a brighter future for this nation tomorrow.

In practical terms, one could say that Sierra Leone was barely emerging from the effects of the civil war when it was again slammed by the Ebola epidemic of 2014-2015, then by the mudslides and floods of 2016 -2017, and now the Covid-19 pandemic. While national politicians use these events to explain why the country has yet to make more progress, EduNations has, with your support and God’s help, made significant gains despite these severe challenges.

While the Covid-19 pandemic has had serious economic and social impacts around the world, the impact is far deeper in developing countries such as Sierra Leone. Before the outbreak of covid-19 in March 2021, Sierra Leone’s economic prospects for the medium term were very promising. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) had projected economic growth of approximately 4.5 percent over the medium-term period of 2020-2022 and that inflation would moderate to single digit levels. However, within one year of the pandemic, the negative effects of ~3 percent economic contraction were felt virtually in all sectors including households, businesses, educational institutions and in both the public and private sectors.

Despite these challenges, and pandemic related lockdowns, social distancing and face masks, and restrictions on inter-district movement, we remain committed to our mission to operate schools and provide a completely free education to thousands of Sierra Leonean children in rural communities.

In December 2020, I credited the faithful generosity of our donors with keeping us afloat. Thank you! And while donors’ support remains crucial, I also want to thank our dedicated staff and Board for helping us to help us remain faithful and focused on continuing to ignite hope through education in Sierra Leone.

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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.

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It was a great joy on October 5th for EduNations to report all schools open and back to in-classroom instruction.  Although it seems like much longer than six months ago, the government of Sierra Leone closed down all schools in the country on March 31st due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This closure ushered EduNations into a season of extraordinary flexibility in order to continue to serve its students, their families, and their communities.

When schools were shut down, EduNations’ schools were mid school year with a special focus on preparing students for the end-of-year exams, which are so important for their educational success in Sierra Leone. This year, EduNations was prepping one-hundred-fifty 6th grade students to take the National Primary School Examinations (which must be passed to enter Junior Secondary School) and one hundred-thirty-eight 9th grade students to take the Basic Education Certificate Examinations (which must be passed to enter Senior Secondary School).

In the USA, one could expect parents to assume some teaching role in the absence of school. In rural Sierra Leone however, almost all students are the first generation in their family to attend school, so there is simply no one able to help children study. What to do? EduNations quickly developed a home-schooling program, visiting each child in their home to teach while still maintaining all the social-distancing and personal sanitation practices. The home-schooling program kept students moving forward and was a great demonstration of EduNations’ commitment to its students’ success.

While the home-schooling program worked well in many ways, it was never the same as the normal school and classroom setting which worked best for both students and teachers. Recognizing the benefits and believing schools could manage the risks, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Schools asked all candidates to return to school to prepare for and write their exams.

Since then, with no reported COVID-19 cases in all the schools across the country, we were delighted at the announcement for all schools to reopen and for all staff and students to return to school on October 5, 2020.

Of course, EduNations staff and students are thankful for the ongoing support of donors and the Board of Directors which has allowed us to get all the necessary supplies – including thermometers, hand washing facilities, face masks – to commence the school year. EduNations was also able to provide school supplies to all students as they returned back to the classroom. As one of our teachers put it, “we are just so happy to be back in this environment with our students.

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Organization Information

EduNations Inc.

Location: Ingomar, PA - USA
Website:
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Twitter: @EdunationsInc
Project Leader:
Sarah Pietryga
Ingomar, PA United States
$23,884 raised of $30,000 goal
 
137 donations
$6,116 to go
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