Tag: Sierra Leone

Children Education in Sierra Leone

Children Education in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is located in West Africa and is one of the world’s poorest and least equal countries. There are great natural resources, but a long civil war and an outbreak of Ebola have damaged the economy and had serious consequences for the children in the country. Girls are extra vulnerable and do not have access to their rights.

The civil war that lasted from 1991 to 2002 led to the deaths of 50,000 people and a third of the population was forced to flee. It had a major impact on the economy and the country’s development. The country had slowly begun to recover from the war when it was hit by an outbreak of the Ebola virus in 2014. The disease had catastrophic consequences for those affected. 10,000 children lost one or both their parents, the country suffered from food shortages and unemployment and violence increased. All schools in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea closed during the summer and millions of children were left without education.

When all schools in Sierra Leone reopened the following year, not all children could return. More than half of Sierra Leone’s population lives below the poverty line and many parents could not afford to let their children go to school. Poverty also leads to many children under the age of five being malnourished. Sierra Leone is one of the countries in the world where most children under the age of five die.

Sierra Leone is now free of Ebola, but children have been greatly affected by the progression of the disease. One study shows that child labor increased because children had to help support their families. With so many deaths, even girls could be forced to take over responsibility for their younger siblings when their parents died. According to the UN, two out of five children work in Sierra Leone.

Sierra Leone

Two out of five girls in child marriage

Sierra Leone is one of the least equal countries in the world. It has a big impact on girls’ lives. The country has the highest maternal mortality rate in the world and almost two out of five girls are forced to marry before the age of 18. The level of education is low for both girls and boys, but lowest for girls who on average go to school for almost three years. Even children from low-income families or with disabilities lose the right to go to school. The lack of education is one of the reasons why so many girls are married off.

This is what Plan International does

Plan International works to strengthen children’s and young people’s right to development, protection and participation. We work to support local savings and loan groups and contribute to increased profits in agriculture to improve the livelihoods of the families affected by Ebola.

Some of our general areas of focus are support for children and young people so that they can address the causes of discrimination against girls and women, work to improve the conditions of children – in practice and politics, preparatory and urgent work to deal with crises and support for children so that they can grow up in security with access to their rights.

Now the schools get more books

In Sierra Leone there are many who cannot read and not even in school are there certain books. Plan International works to give more people the opportunity to discover the world of books.

For many children in Sierra Leone, books are a rarity. Few families have the opportunity to have books at home and for those who can afford it, there are few bookstores with a small selection. Many children also do not have access to books at school. Together with Book Aid International, Plan International distributes 10,000 books to over 100 schools around Sierra Leone. Through the project, Plan International wants to increase the proportion of literates that is now around 45 percent.

– Without books, children will not pass exams, that is the biggest problem. There is no reading culture at all, says Mariam Murrey who is an advisor for the program.

The hope is that the books will give students the desire to read and support them in their learning. Schools receive everything from academic books to fiction for children and picture books for the little ones. All books are in English, which is the official language of the country and is used in teaching.

13-year-old Mariama is one of the students who received books.

– Thank you so much for giving my school books and for giving us the opportunity to read and learn, she says.

The schools that have received books have also been encouraged to create small corners where students can practice reading. The books should be there so that the children can easily find them and settle down.

Equality

A role model for young women

Dad said it was a waste of money to educate girls, that girls should get married and move out. I refused to listen to Dad and showed that the structures of society were wrong. Now they can all see that women can also become teachers. Now I am a role model.

Mamie

Plan International has made it possible for people in several communities in the Moyamba district to be able to report genital mutilation or kidnapping of children; two serious violations of children’s rights that also lead to girls being forced to drop out of school. When Plan International celebrated the UN’s anniversary last year, many children participated in the work of producing a letter to the local authorities demanding more money to protect children.

Security and protection

To survive for play and laughter

Now they look at me as a hero because I survived Ebola. In the future, I want to help people when they get sick, especially children.

Michael, 14 years

Michael’s family died of Ebola. He himself became infected but survived and moved in with his aunt. When the epidemic was over and school started again, he asked his aunt not to go there because his classmates were afraid of him and did not want to talk to him. But his aunt refused to let him stop. At the same time, Plan International worked to change students’ attitudes and reduce discrimination against Ebola survivors. Today he plays and laughs with his friends and he is happy to have them back.

Facts about Sierra Leone

Facts about Sierra Leone

Capital: Freetown
Population: 7.6 million
Life expectancy: 52 years
Infant mortality rate: 110.5 per 1000 births
Proportion of children starting school: 98.3%
Literacy: 32.4%
Proportion of women in parliament: 12%