Friday, December 18, 2009

Atlantic Rising

An interesting project: a British team are travelling round the rim of the Atlantic Basin and linking schools along their journey with each other. The idea is to educate about the Climate Change and consequent rising of the Atlantic and the related issues and to engage the youngsters at the various schools on their journey in the dialogue about the causes and effects within their lives.

At EducAid, we are always delighted to have our youngsters challenged by new opportunities, new ways of thinking, new contacts and connections so we jumped at the chance.

Apparently, our students did more than hold their own. Well done to all involved and thank you to the 'Atlantic Rising' team.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work, please see:

Injustice - one serious face of the poverty in Sierra Leone

The most clear places to see the poverty in Sierra Leone are in the provision of health care and in the total lack of real justice.

Please go to this site for an excellent article written by one of the founders of AdvocAid.

AdvocAid contracts EducAid to provide basic education in the female wings of both the Central Prison in Freetown and the prison in Kenema.

Jimiyke - the public speaker

Jimiyke is still waiting for further feedback on the last few tests to ensure that his health is secure but in the meantime he is putting his time to good use. Various friends have offered opportunities to sit alongside them and improve his ICT skills and, in addition, he is fast becoming a bit of a mini-celebrity. He spoke, during his first week in the UK, at North Oxfordshire Academy and the students came out of his assemblies enthused and moved. Since then, he has been speaking on skype quite regularly to Alex Ehegartner's [Stockport Citizenship teacher] students. This week he has been to Alex's school in person and has spoken to an assembled group of representatives of around a dozen schools in the Stockport area. He spoke about his experiences during the war and also about what EducAid has done for him. I understand that once again the listeners were greatly moved by what he had to say.

As a result of this meeting, he was invited to St Simon's [long standing EducAid supporters] to see the Nativity play and to speak to parents and children. His visit and what he had to say were received, as ever, with great enthusiasm.
Jimiyke speaking to Year 4.

For those new to Jimiyke's story see earlier posts from May to date and
Jimiyke is one of my personal heroes - a young man of great courage and integrity.

His own experiences in the UK are recorded on his blog

If you want to know more about EducAid's work please see

Thursday, December 17, 2009

EducAid's first graduate - a Big Day!

Mohamed Sannoh - A very proud day for him and for us all.
Ok....and a few others too!
Mohamed Sannoh, the longest standing EducAid pupil, has graduated from Fourah Bay College in Freetown, Sierra Leone in Accounting and Finance.

Mohamed was part of our sponsorship programme in the very early days before there was an EducAid school. Mohamed finished his education at the EducAid Senior Secondary School and was the first EducAid student to gain entrance to university.

For more details about his courage and strength in the pursuit of education see:

For more information about EducAid's work see:

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Getting festive in aid of EducAid

Quite a few Santas then!
Triumphant! Alison and Megan post 'dash'.
Alison Walsh of Lambeth Academy and one of her students, Megan, participated in a 6 kilometre Santa Dash around Battersea Park, sponsored for EducAid. Alison is a long-term supporter of EducAid's work and has visited the project twice.

To learn more about EducAid's work see

Introduction of a Skills Based Teacher -training Curriculum in Sierra Leone

Sean [British teacher] and I have been working like mad things on writing up the distance learning modules for a brand new teacher training programme. At present, approximately 40% of Sierra Leonean teachers are trained and qualified so this programme does have the potential to make a real difference to the quality of education in secondary schools across the country.

This week we are training the tutors and mentors that will support the 40 student-teachers who will participate in the pilot in Kenema and Kono, the far east of Sierra Leone. In January, the course goes live, starting with 2 week residential sessions.

The new course adopts a completely new approach. It is a skills based course which attempts clearly, for the first time ever, to address the real needs of the nation at this time and in the current context. It is a very exciting project for the development of the whole country if implemented well.
Tutors and mentors of the new Higher Teachers Certificate Course think through the implications for teacher training of a skills based curriculum.
Another interesting aspect for us is where EducAid staff have been able to participate in various ways. This week, Brima Will and next week Emmanuel Bailay, members of the EducAid Leadership Team, are observing the training so that they can serve as monitoring and evaluation officers of the residential courses.

It is interesting to see how, thanks probably to the regular EducAid training, they are more than able to hold their own in the company of the country's teacher training lecturers.
Brima Will of EducAid attending the training of tutors and mentors.

For more information on EducAid's work see

Sunday, December 6, 2009

A darker day today

4 months ago today, we lost our beloved Alhassan, needlessly to medical negligence and being in a poor country that is riddled with corruption.

For more information about our work, see

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Challenging a culture of underachievement

This year, EducAid senior secondary students came 5th in the country in their public exams. On the face of it, fantastic. In reality, however, I was mad as fire at the horrible underachievement of some of our students. Many of them did not get anything close to their potential. Some did, but far too many did not.
Sitting their public exams - better than most but not achieving their true potential yet.
Of course the first thing is that this tells quite a terrifying story of national underachievement and then the second thing is understanding the causes and therefore how to tackle such an enormous problem.

It has taken me literally years to realise that even the teachers here do not expect the students to cover the whole syllabus and saw that as a wholly unrealistic task to set their students. Teachers have, therefore, encouraged their students to believe themselves fit for the exam with under 50% of the syllabus covered. Accordingly, I have a battle with students who promise me with great confidence, despite all the evidence to the contrary, that if I enter them for the public exam that they will show me; that they will prove themselves; that they will come out with 'flying colours' and so on. When their records are checked, we will discover that in nearly all subjects the students concerned have passed Unit Tests in under half the units. The course being broken down into units with a test at the end of each one, the successful passing of a unit test is thus the evidence that they are competent in that area of the course.
Requiring the students to actually cover the whole syllabus is regarded as unfair, putting them back in their studies and their progress and generally willfully evil, on my part. This year, I have dug my heels in, taken control of the entries decisions myself and we are entering a tiny group. Next year, now the students are slowly getting the message and are pushing themselves to actually complete each course, we should be in a position to enter a really good, strong group of students and I think I have at last got the teachers onside. Hopefully, this will be the beginning of a whole new era!

We could so easily mimic the poor performance that is seen across the country but to what end? We would simply help our students recycle themselves back into poverty through their academic underachievement. If we can now start to break that culture, we will start to see our students able to genuinely compete with youngsters anywhere on an equal footing; we will start to see our students challenging their contemporaries from the elite classes with real knowledge, thinking and skills.

There is now a nucleus of students who have formed themselves into study groups and who are pushing themselves not just on the Unit Test front, although they are impressive in that respect, but also in terms of accessing ICT, reading outside their subject areas, practising their English accents, listening to the radio to improve their general knowledge and understanding of current affairs and more. They are our real hope for a true EducAid academic hot house. The solutions will not come over night as the problem is so ingrained but we have started to see a light at the end of the tunnel!

For more information about EducAid's work see:

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

How incredible

Amazing good news. The diagnosis we had hoped against hope for - full recovery from Hepatitis C has actually now been confirmed. 15% of cases self heal so it was a possibility but very unlikely once Hepatatis C antibodies had been detected.

Jimiyke nearly died of unknown causes in March. TB was suspected but never proved. Hepatitis C antibodies were detected but no further diagnosis was possible in Sierra Leone.

The initial scans given by the doctors showed such extreme liver cirrhosis that he was given maybe a year to live. Unthinkable to sit back and watch while he degenerated. Now we wonder if he was given the wrong ones - after all, almost anything is possible in Sierra Leone.

He continued to have some abdominal swelling and pain for some time and eventually, after much battling and much generosity, a visa was obtained so that his health could be properly assessed in the UK, as both TB and Hepatitis C are generally terminal if untreated.

Today, he has received the letter that his body has healed itself. He has definitely had both TB and Hepatitis C but he definitely no longer has Hepatitis C. I have cried for him twice this year. I cried first when I heard in March, from the UK, that he had been admitted to the Connaught Hospital which is like a death sentence in itself. Today, I cried with relief.

With more kindness, help and concern from many good friends, he is taking advantage of any opportunity to be taught ICT by friends, preparing himself to come back and undertake some serious participation in the rebuilding of his country.

For those new to Jimiyke's story please read the post on 22nd May 09, 8th, 16th & 28th July and/or follow the link to:]

For more information about EducAid's work please go to:

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

He is speaking for himself now

For those of you who have been following Jimiyke's story since the early days, you may be interested to hear that he is telling his story for himself now.

While tests have revealed that he does need intervention to protect his life and health, the good news is that his liver is in very good nick and not requiring immediate treatment as the events in March had suggested. The bottom line is that, now he is in the UK, a clear picture is possible and then wise and informed decisions can be made. None of which is possible with the terrible and terrifying medical facilities available in Sierra Leone.

For those new to Jimiyke's story please read the post on 22nd May 09, 8th, 16th & 28th July and/or follow the link to:]

For more information about EducAid's work please go to: