Success stories from Sierra Leone
60 million girls knows that the pandemic has forced the closure of schools around the world, disrupting the lives up millions of children and youth over the past two years. Adolescent girls in developing countries have been disproportionally impacted by COVID-19 and many will never return to the classroom. Our Adolescent Girls’ Education Fund was created last year to address this pressing issue.
Our partner, CAUSE Canada, was the recipient of one of our 2021 grants. This project, titled We Day Kam Back (We Go Back), specifically targeted out-of-school girls, aged 12-16 years, who would participate in 30 accelerated learning centres located in the rural communities of Koinadugu and Falaba of northern Sierra Leone. The goal of the project is to offer quality accelerated learning opportunities so that the students can reintegrate to school with the necessary knowledge and confidence to stay in school and succeed. Our Mobile Learning Lab is a key component of the project as it offers high-quality learning and health resources.
The project, implemented at the beginning of Sierra Leone’s school year in August, was well received by the communities, with additional support from the Mothers’ Clubs. Girls were given school supplies and are supported by qualified tutors in a friendly environment. Indeed, though its original target was 640 girls, the demand was so great that there are now 820 students attending classes in all 30 communities 5 days a week.
After only six months, the project has already met with great success. 102 girls have already returned to the classroom though they continue to participate in the accelerated learning centres. Others have said how grateful they are that this initiative was offered to them. This is what some of them have to say:
Fatma, a 17-year-old student, dropped out of school to work on the farm because of a lack of funds when her father died three years ago. On learning of the program, Fatma was able to join and resume her education. Today, she says she is one of the happiest girls as she continues to study and fulfil her dream of becoming a doctor.
Mariama, another 17-year-old student, lost her father when she was in primary school. Like Fatma, the situation became difficult and Mariama left school to help her mother. Unfortunately, she became pregnant, though she lost the baby, and dropped out of school entirely for two years. The program is giving her a second chance to achieve her dreams.
Victoria is a 15-year-old orphan and has been living with her older sister, who dropped out of school to take care of her. However, her sister could no longer afford to both feed and send Victoria to school so she too had to drop out. She has made such excellent progress that she has been able to return to the main school to fulfil her dream of becoming a doctor.
Finah is a 15-year-old student who lost her mother at the age of 10 and, two years later, her father. Her stepmother would not support her in school and Finah married. She had a baby but, sadly, her husband died just a year later. She was encouraged by her aunt and CAUSE Canada to return to school and enrolled in the program. She now has hope that she can become a lawyer.
There is no doubt that this project is meeting its goal of helping out-of-school adolescent girls return to the classroom so that they can fulfil their dreams of a brighter future. We wish them every success.