The Ihezie Foundation is raising urgent funds to meet the needs of schools across Sierra Leone, West Africa, to conduct a book delivery project to gift 80,000 books at a critical juncture in the country’s future of education.
Education in Sierra Leone has been a challenge since the devastating Sierra Leone Civil War that lasted from 1991 to 2002 took the nation’s education system as an early casualty, wiping out 1,270 primary schools and forcing 67 percent of all-school aged children out of school in 2001. More than a decade later, education in Sierra Leone is still recovering from the destruction caused by the conflict. The West African nation continues to struggle with its school system and the difficult tasks of rebuilding schools, training teachers, and educating children who have often never stepped foot inside of a classroom.
The system of education in Sierra Leone comprises three basic levels: primary, junior secondary and senior secondary. All six years of primary education are free of cost. Students begin junior secondary school around the age of 12 and remain at that level through age 15. Girls living in rural areas typically have the toughest time reaching this level of schooling due to cultural beliefs that often discourage their participation.
40 percent of primary school teachers are untrained.
There is also a massive shortage of textbooks, and it is not uncommon for four or five students to share a single book.
The literacy rate among 15 to 24-year-olds is below 60 percent, and the total adult literacy rate is even lower, at about 43 percent. Secondary school participation is low, with a net attendance ratio from 2008 to 2012 of 39.9 percent for boys and 33.2 percent for girls. Education in Sierra Leone has experienced notable advances in recent years. Just after the conflict, a mere 55 percent of children were finishing primary school. That number has since jumped to 76 percent of students finishing primary school, and 77 percent of those children advancing to the junior secondary level. The government of Sierra Leone spends 14 percent of its national budget on education and half of that figure is devoted to primary education.
With generous funding from the government of the Netherlands, teacher-training programs have been greatly improved in recent years with more than 3,000 teachers now enrolled in first-time or continuing courses.
We are seeking to reach a campaign target of £20,000 on and offline to provide 80,000 books this year which would stock approximately 60 primary and secondary libraries across Sierra Leone, working closely with the Government and the voluntary sector to identify which schools would benefit the most from access to the additional books. Upon successful completion of this, we will seek to expand our book donation programme year on year.
Our Impact in Sierra Leone to date
We have been working with the Government in Sierra Leone to plan a programme of book deliveries, and we are now exploring work in Newton in Sierra Leone within local education structures to determine the shape of our future book programme. Plans were well underway under the last Government but we have had to postpone these plans following an election in Sierra Leone and our established contacts not being re-elected. We are working again to establish relationships in Sierra Leone. Please contact us if you can help us establish partnerships or are a NGO working in Sierra Leone.