In September 2020 President of Sierra Leone reversed a mandate that banned pregnant students from attending school. The next month he launched the Free Quality Education Program. The program aims to provide twelve years of quality education to every Sierra Leonean child. In the year since the government has made strides to invest in their human capital through educating over 2.4 million students. Quality of education in Sierra Leone varies greatly between the city and rural areas. Schools are often separated by gender, religion, and ability.
Students will have the unique experience to experience Sierra Leone’s transition from for profit education, that did not prioritize students, to a free education system which aims to put students of all categories first. They will have a first hand opportunity to see the difference between schools in the cities and rural areas, and attend schools segregated by ability, gender, and religion. Students will participate in an immersive experience to interact with Sierra Leonean students and faculty regarding barriers to education, as well as on what their education encompasses and what they are getting out of the system. Participants will attend primary, secondary, and vocational schools that meet the educational needs of a wide range of individuals, and meet with organizations researching and supporting this educational revolution.
Dates of Engagement: May 9-18, 2022
Cost of Program: $3,300
Maguire Drew is a MA of Ethics, Peace, and Human Rights student with a concentration in gender and security at SIS. She worked in various teaching roles for five years before becoming a Peace Corps Education Volunteer in Sierra Leone. While there she created a life skills program for primary students, assisted in building a new library at her school, and co-created multiple school programs for female students. She additionally served as the President of the Gender Equality Committee, creating programming to promote women’s health empowerment. Through her various volunteer and professional opportunities she has continued to work for women’s empowerment during her time as a MA candidate. Maguire is grateful for her connection to Mama Salone. She hopes this program showcases the uniqueness of the country’s education system and greater understanding of the challenges individuals face in their access to education in Sierra Leone.
Apolinario Todela is an MA in International Development with a concentration in Project Management. He pursued a BS in biology with a minor in chemistry, working in a biotechnology company before joining Peace Corps as an education volunteer teaching math and science in rural Sierra Leone. Apart from teaching middle school-aged children, he was also involved in supporting the Let Girls Learn Club and the chess club in his school. In addition to his role as a teacher, he was also involved in Peace Corps Sierra Leone’s Diversity and Inclusion Committee that promoted and celebrated the diversity of volunteers within the post. Through his experiences in Salone, he pursued a degree in international development to promote more effective and local community-led development. He hopes that this program will encourage people to better understand education and the unique challenges students face in their pursuit of it in Salone.
Day 1: Arrive in Sierra Leone and travel to Makeni. Sit in on classes at the University of Makeni.
Day 2: Sit in on classes at the University of Makeni. Meet with professors and students.
Day 3: Participate in a debate with students at the University of Makeni. Attend St. Francis Secondary School.
Day 4: Meet with Street Child, an NGO in Sierra Leone. Attend Joseph's School for the Hearing Impaired. Spend the night in Kenema.
Day 5: Visit Kenema District Council Junior Secondary School Talia Torgboma and Eastern Polytechnic.
Day 6: Travel to Bo and visit Bo School. Spend the night in Freetown.
Day 7: Meet with NGOs and individuals working with the Sierra Leone education system.
Day 8: Visit FAWE.
Day 9: Visit Tacugama Chimpanzee Sanctuary and Big Market. Spend the night at the beach.
Day 10: Take the Freetown Ferry to the airport and depart for the US.