One of my greatest joys in Sierra Leone is walking to work passing by hundreds of kids on their way to school each morning. Quite how their parents keep them all looking so immaculately clean is beyond me in this heat and dust and with the lack of resources at their disposal. Girls wear pleated skirts and boys, some of them as old as 18, smart shorts. Because of the civil war, some school kids are as old as 21. The old-school school uniforms put me in mind of when I went to school as a young kid in the 70s.
Mercifully, primary education is now free in Sierra Leone with an estimated 70% of kids attending. For secondary education this drops to around 30% with this figure as low as 10% in rural areas. For this reason the CBF league deserves to be proud of its secondary school attendance rates of well above 90%. It is all a far cry from the mid-nineteenth century when the good people of this country were better educated than almost anywhere else in the world. In 1860 it is said that 22% of Sierra Leoneans were educated. In England, at that time, the figure was a pathetic 13%. In the pre-civil war days, Sierra Leonean university graduates were in demand all over Africa and beyond. It just shows how much the fortunes of a country can change. The beginning of the civil war in 1991 really was a ‘year zero’ for this nation. Participation in education can lead this country on the road to redevelopment.
Bob, Alex and I meet to prepare a letter asking a number of schools to allow us to run the homework club for the two coming weekends. I plan to host these homework clubs during the coming Fridays and Sundays and hope my participation will encourage other link teachers to join me, thus kick-starting the clubs.