A joyful day for children in Sierra Leone

Posted on Nov 8, 2011

Six months after the building project began at Calvary Lutheran and National Islamic Primary Schools, the two school buildings plus the water and sanitation facilities are now complete. The handing over ceremonies took place early in October to the delight of Up Mountain and Up Town Bar communities.
Both head-teachers are overwhelmed with the number of parents enrolling their children in the new schools. The new school buildings will provide a more conducive learning environment and will reduce overcrowding in the classrooms.
Head teacher of National Islamic Primary School, Bernard Turay, said in his welcome address at the ceremony: “This is a complete transformation from a pan body school (single storey) to a two storey building, with furniture, learning materials and a conducive learning environment for both pupils and teachers. I am proud and the children are proud too because this school will stand tall among the schools in the area.”
Mohammed Sillah, country Director of ActionAid Sierra Leone, thanked the community for their support in making the project a success. He also thanked the Millione Foundation and the generous people from the UK who donated funds which have made education accessible to children in deprived communities. The mayor of Freetown City Council, Herbert George Williams thanked ActionAid for collaborating with the council to promote education across the country. He called on both communities to take ownership of the project and the mayor committed the council’s support to the schools.
Parents and community members have been very involved in the project over the last few months and everyone worked together to ensure the schools were completed on time.
The communities looked after construction materials and worked closely with the contractors.
Raising awareness on the right to education, particularly for girls, has been a key part of the project during the last few months and was recognised through scholarships for several girls at the handing over ceremony.

Some of the key achievements marked by the opening of the first schools include:

  • Sanitation facilities have been provided including six compartment toilets in each school. This will reduce the number missed school days due to diahorea as well as giving girls more privacy, a major reason for girls dropping out or missing school in the past.
  • Safe drinking water is now accessible to both schools and communities as a whole, following the completion of a well and hand pumps in each school.
  • Furniture made by an ActionAid trained, local carpenter and teaching materials were handed over to both schools. This will improve the learning environment and academic performance, reduce drop-out rates and motivate the children to attend school.
  • Scholarships were awarded to the highest 10 performing girls in the National Primary School exams at the handing over ceremonies on 5th October. Each scholarship is worth 500,000 Leones (approximately £77) and with the scholarship comes a promotion to junior secondary school and funding for their education. Each school formed a scholarship management committee as part of the process which includes the head teacher, a School Management Committee member, a women’s leader and a female parent or guardian.
  • Regular meetings were held by both communities to inform all stakeholders about the progress of the project and generate local support for the school building works. This led to the formation of project management committees in each community.
  • Regular meetings with the project management committees were held to review the work done and identify and solve any problems during the construction process.
  • In order to ensure the smooth running of both schools and in anticipation of the handing over ceremony, the school management committees were trained on their roles and responsibilities in school governance, budgeting, record keeping and maintenance and repairs of the school furniture.

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