Monday, June 20, 2011

New blog

Girls' Safe House in Maronka - under construction.
To chronicle the ups and downs of all the preparations and day to day functioning of the Girls' Safe House in Maronka, we have set up a new blog:
Have a look and see what you think.
This new project responds to many of the challenges and issues that we have faced before, in particular with regards to women achieving their full potential in education, by seeking to pre-empt so many of the elements of society which threaten women's self esteem and ambition.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Dress a girl around the sewing for Maronka

Imagine a world where every girl had at least one dress!

Wow - what beautiful pillow cases!
This is how their website opens. is an organisation with a non denominational Christian foundation with the aim of giving a little bit of value and feeling special and pretty to as many little girls around the world as it can.  They sew pillow cases into dresses.  When I went on the website this evening, they had delivered 31,804 dresses in 47 countries.

Now, Esther's craft group has joined the ranks of the sewing enthusiasts and they are producing beautiful dresses for the girls in Maronka.

It is one of the things that sticks in my mind from when I first went to Maronka, 11 years ago: there were three houses and the children were rag poor.  If a kid had pants, he didn't have a T-shirt and those who had a top did not have pants and a good proportion of the smaller ones had neither.

Over the years, with the ending of the war, the coming of the school and various donations, things have looked up.  Now, most children would have a pair of flip flops [often worn right through underneath but....present] and a handful of clothes even if they don't fit properly and often have great holes in them.  However, pretty things that are the personal property of an individual are very rare events!

This is a lovely project and we are greatly appreciative of Esther and her team!

Thank you all.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans please go to and

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Another set of important funding approved - Yes!

Thinking it through!

Bhumi of SLEEP, an organisation based in the United States of America has been battling away at a bid for funding to introduce a debate training programme.

Staff and students will be selected for training in research, analysis, argument construction and presentation following a programme of debate training which has seen significant improvements in many aspects of students' learning in numerous similar projects across the world.

The skills acquired will benefit the actual participants themselves but, also, the idea is that regular sessions will be undertaken with other students in both the senior secondary schools through the rest of the year.

In general, in Sierra Leone, questions, analysis, reflection, the development and ability to defend one's own opinion, are all actively discouraged.  It is clear however, that without these, it is impossible for the population to participate in a genuine democratic process.

We actively encourage these fundamental skills and are very proud of our students in general.  This is a wonderful opportunity for them to build up these aspects and help their peers do so to.

The topic is pertinent too.  They will be discussing women's rights and participation in key institutions in Sierra Leone!  Women are generally not even 2nd class citizens in most of Sierra Leone.  They often come in a lowly 3rd, after their children.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

What? Where? Why? When? Maronka Primary teacher training / resource centre

Lots to do!

This morning I received an exciting email..... funding for a new project!


A teacher development facility providing short capacity building courses for teachers without qualifications or whose skill base needs reinforcement.

40% of Sierra Leonean teachers are trained and qualified.  There is a new distance course providing the possibility of training without leaving work.  This course however is not accessible to all because of the cost and also the entry requirements, which many are unable to attain.

Courses can be designed for a variety of needs.  Some examples might include:
·      Once a week [maybe evening] sessions for Port Loko based teachers who need some reinforcement in particular aspects of their subjects
·      A week at a time [hopefully returnees would come for 1 week per term] training in different methodologies [e.g. phonics for literacy, using Bloom’s taxonomy, skills focused teaching etc]

We would expect training courses to be a mixture of:
  • ·      Observation of different methodologies, 
  • ·      Group study, reflection on what has been observed,
  • ·      Opportunities for micro-teaching to try out different things they have learned, be videoed while doing it and then discuss with the group, how the session went.


EducAid has had a primary school in Maronka for over 5 years.
The new teacher training facility would be in the village alongside the primary school.  This will mean that it is conveniently placed for access to the primary school classes for observation and micro-teaching. 
It will be easy to lodge teachers on site as we will include a dormitory facility in the new construction.
Maronka is 2.5 miles away from Port Loko the district capital.
Girls' Safe House under construction at the top of the village
The teacher resource centre would probably be where the photographer was standing or behind the primary school building.
All of the school buildings are at the top end of the village.

View from the girls' safe house looking down into the village.

Provision of free (or low cost – there is a debate to be had about how much people value things that they have paid even a small amount for as opposed to something free), capacity-building opportunities could significantly change the impact of the teachers on their students.  Currently, students arrive in our secondary schools from local primary schools, incapable of independent reading, writing, thinking or learning.  In the NPSE, National Primary School Exams the tests are largely meaningless, as most teachers know their students will not pass and it is totally standard practice for them to stand in the middle and read the multiple choice answers to everyone.  Nationwide, approximately 40% of students entering the BECE (junior secondary exams) pass. Approximately 17% of students entering WASSCE (senior secondary exams) pass.

Generally, students are taught not to think, question or analyse, on pain of being thrown out of the class for insubordination and trying to embarrass the teacher.

Teachers able to teach thinking skills, how to evolve and defend an argument, how to retrieve and evaluate information and so on, without feeling threatened themselves, will have a significant impact on their students and on the future of democracy in Sierra Leone.


The construction will take 3 months approximately and could be started at the end of the rainy season i.e. October or so.
With appropriate recruitment and training of staff to run the programme, we could hope to get started in the spring of 2012.

If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to

Sunday, June 5, 2011

New girls' quarters in Magbeni

Alice, head girl, has moved in.
A couple of months ago, I gave the go ahead to AA's building project for a new girls and female staff quarters as they were overflowing out of the women's project classroom where they had all been sleeping.
Now, it is already in use by the girls and there is just a ceiling to be added!
Bricks and much of the labour was courtesy of the staff and students. A technician was brought in to ensure the quality of the work, otherwise this was an EducAid Magbeni home grown project.
Fantastic job by all.
Well done!
That was quick!  

AA - lead teacher and chief organiser - Magbeni.
If you want to know more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to