Thursday, January 24, 2013

Great to have an update from Issa Fowai in China

A year gone by one and half left to finish my course. The civil engineering course itself is difficult, but the language (Chinese) makes it more difficult. Thanks to Gaza for giving us a stronger foundation, in mathematics and physics and Ndola for teaching me the basics about computers. With these I still get to top the class. No single lesson is taught in English. Next year around this time I will be writing my thesis in Chinese, challenging but fun. Sometimes Life is very hard here too, even though we get allowance every month, but you end up spending it on water rates, light bills, insurances and field trips, and each year you have to pay huge amount of money for resident permit. So even before the next allowance you are broke. They still call it full scholarship though.
The winter holiday here can be quite boring. You can’t go out because it’s extremely cold. I guess surviving this harsh weather is one of the few things we can’t learn from EducAid. Coping with it though. I was thinking of doing ice skiing but that didn’t work either. I have to take the advanced level of the Chinese proficiency test in March, which involves money. The good news is the first time you take the exam you pay less, the bad news is you pay a huge amount if you attempt it for the second time. I took the elementary level exam back in 2010 when I finished learning the first round of Chinese, it was compulsory. Now this school is asking for a higher level certificate before I finish my course in 2014 which I’m planning to take in March, but the money is too much. I have to learn 2500 Chinese characters, so this holiday I’m stuck in my room with these characters. I will be missing the annual Sierra Leone students’ convention is in February, which I have to pay a fine for. The workload is heavy, but God bless EducAid for teaching us to work harder. Health is okay.
On the other hand, extracurricular activities are going well. When I think about the holistic programs, I miss EducAid more. I hear we even have more holistic programs now and that’s just great. Glad to hear about Alpha and Moinina going to Morocco to further their studies. My team won the foreign students indoor championships a few weeks back and I’m one of the two foreign students to be called in the school athletics team.  

My deepest sympathy. The memory of Mr. SSDEMs will go on forever in my heart. As a student I really never understood his principles, but those principles were principles to success, principles to inspire. After working one year as a junior staff alongside him, I got to know how inspiring his principles were. Having that honor to work with him is a treasure I will always cherish. We all know how wonderful he was. We was a good teacher, father, advisor, leader and a good story teller. The only source of knowledge is experience and SSdems was my source of experience. It was a tragic news knowing that I will never get the chance to meet this great man again and even my kids. But his ideas, I will cherish forever. May his soul rest in eternal peace.

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

Friday, January 18, 2013

Successful reform in Rogbere

Three months or so ago, EducAid was obliged to face up to a very difficult situation where a number of the exam candidates had cheated in a public exam and the entire class had lost their results in consequence.
We had a very difficult meeting with parents and community when we told them that there was no way the reward for such behaviour could be a place in the senior secondary school that had come top in the country and we were very sorry but the students would all have to leave EducAid.  Eventually a more lenient option was negotiated and the group were told that if they were ready to make amends for their crime by doing a couple of months of community service their situation would be reviewed. The parents were solemn, the students silenced and tearful and the teachers greatly relieved that their efforts had not gone entirely in vain.
We (certainly I) never expected the entire class to cooperate but they really did.  Each student kept a record of what they had done and worked on a string of different projects:
- They built a fence around the school compound,
- They made market tables and a baffa so the market women would no longer sell on the school veranda,
- They made a farm where they grew foodstuffs for the school kitchens,
- They went and taught in the nearby junior secondary and primary schools (the teachers were even to release them back to EducAid again because they performed so well),
- They supported teaching of the EducAid students and looked after the home students, supervising evening study and the like,
- They worked on the chief's farm,
- They cleaned and fenced the village well.

They really worked and worked hard.

The review meeting that took place on Saturday had the potential to be very difficult if there had not been full cooperation and I was fully expecting that the teachers would be obliged to spill the beans on a couple of reluctant participants.  Instead, it was a truly positive session.
The students presented their work, apologised for their behaviour and its consequences and pleaded for mercy so they could rejoin the EducAid family.  At a time in their lives when there is scope to make amends they have learned a lesson that will serve them forever.
The whole team were able to feel proud of the outcome and the assurance that not only excellent academic education had been imparted but real values have been engrained too.  The students are also clearly happy with themselves and EducAid.  They have recruited another eleven of their friends to join them in the transfer to the senior secondary school.

Well done Rogbere - a hard lesson well learned.  On and up!

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

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

QEP Maronka - all set to go now!

QEP = Quality Enhancement Programme.

For the last year we have been running an outreach programme to twelve junior secondary schools with whom we seek to help improve the quality of their teaching and learning.
The staff have been attending week long sessions in subject groups and we are now also working with the principals in order to support more positive behaviour management.  We are excited because five schools from across the country  have contacted us because of our excellent public exam results so that they can learn from us so we have enrolled them in the programme.
In addition to this, we have just heard today that we have the funding in place for the first round of primary school teacher training i.e. QEP Maronka. Yes!
This is exciting.
Primary school teaching is almost as undervalued as it is possible to imagine.  Teaching is seen as for people that can't but primary school teaching is for people that are off the scale in their lack of other abilities.  If you can read the alphabet you can teach it.
As a result, the primary schools across the country are staffed by people that have few skills, little subject content knowledge and know they are viewed as pretty much the lowest of the low by the rest of society.
Overall, 40% of Sierra Leonean teachers are trained and qualified.  Of this proportion, the vast majority are from primary level.
In contrast, we are excited that our dream is being realised.  Opportunities are opening up for us to have an impact on the quality of teaching at junior secondary and now primary level.  With committed young teachers, past EducAid pupils taking the lead on teaching primary kids and who will now take the lead on training their fellow primary school teachers, there is the potential to change something real for a whole lot of Sierra Leonean children.  Big thanks to MIH who are funding us.
Action stations team - lots of work to be done to educate the nation's youth :)

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

Saidu Sesay (SS Dem) RIP

One of the big characters of EducAid was lost to us on Sunday, 13th January.  Saidu Sesay, longest serving teacher was an enthusiastic and humorous man who worked for his students and the community with great integrity and zeal.  He was head of the commercial department for many years and for the last 5 years has been a key member of the leadership team that runs the EducAid programme across its 5 sites.

SS never did anything with half his heart.  A generous and earnest man, he would persuade and cajole until he had a whole team to undertake whatever the new project was that he was backing.

Last year was one of his hardest.  Four years ago he had a son, named him Alhassan and lost him before he was a month old.  Last year, he lost a second baby, this time within a day or two of its birth.  He has just had a third but he will now grow without his father's care or knowledge of the great man he was, other than from the many stories that abound about his various endeavours.

In the summer, SS fell ill and although many tests were done, it was unclear what was the matter.  His family came and took him away from Freetown and back to his village to treat him the traditional way!  Despite all our best attempts to convince them to let us bring him to a hospital, they insisted that only in the village could he get better.  He made a couple of temporary improvements but the overall decline was very quick.  On Sunday morning he gave up the battle for his life.

We have lost a great brother, friend and colleague, a great lover of life and a truly community minded worker.  He was always ready with a laugh, a dance or a joke.  Apart from winning the bag of rice for the best public exam results, he also one the award for being the best eater - it is hard to remember him without a smile.

May his soul rest in peace.  May there be many who learn lessons from his life and learn to live as well as he did.

He died at 44 - just about the national average for men.  May education bring changes to the terrible life statistics and realities in Sierra Leone where so much life is wasted.

Staff and students visited the family on Monday and another group will go on Saturday.

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

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

A great example of education destroying poverty

My Profile
My name is Alpha Alhaji Bangura. I was born in 11th October 1994 in Makabie village Koya Chiefdom Portloko District I came from an extended family of twenty-one children. I am the fourteenth child and the only one that has reached this level of education (the exams that qualified me to enter university). My parents are both local farmers as are my elder brothers and sisters.
I started attending school in the year 2002 just after the war in Sierra Leone. I sat to my National Primary Examination(NPSE) in 2005 i.e. the exams that qualified me to enter the junior secondary school and there was no way to further my education because my parents have not got money for me to further my education.  My father sent to a man who promised to help me with my educational issues, who later on used me to do his business (selling Coal). I had to return to my parent and later on decided to join them going to the farm. Thereafter my father heard about Educ-Aid school and what the school is doing for pupils whose parents are unable to pay their school fees to further their education.  I was not enthusiastic at first because there was no uniform and the school was not a well known one. 
Life In EducAid School
I entered EducAid junior secondary school in November 2005. I was walking from my village to school every morning which was six miles. Sometimes I used to go to school very late and because of that my teachers asked me to join as a home student and I had to join. I sat to my Basic Educational Examinations Certificate in 2007(BECE) i.e. the exams that qualified me to enter senior secondary school and Miriam Mason Sesay took us to Freetown, Lumley where I continued my senior secondary schooling. I had wanted to take my West Africa Senior Secondary Schools Examinations (WASSCE) in 2010 but Miriam did not allow me.  According to her she said she does not want us to under achieve. I was frustrated and she encouraged me to continue with my studies and I did. I later on sat to the exams in 2011 and I got a university requirement because my result was excellent so I was glad.
I joined as a Junior Staff for 2011 to 2012 and I was sent to Educ-Aid school magbeni where I came from. I was teaching Mathematics, Agricultural Science, Electronics and Integrated science and as well I was applying for scholarships at the Ministry of Education of Sierra Leone. I came back to Freetown in order to enter university and a friend called and told me that there is a scholarship advertised for science undergraduate students at the Ministry of education by the Kingdom of Morocco and I rushed and applied with my result, Merit certificate, Career Workshop certificate, Community service certificate and Self Employment certificate.
I was shortlisted and called for interview and the interview was successful and I was asked to go home and keep my phone on. If I was successful they would call me. I was called when the Kingdom of Morocco replied me. I was hoping the government would be responsible for everything without knowing that it is at my expense. Getting the scholarship is one thing. To go through the expenses is another. If it had not Miriam helping me throughout with the expenses I should have lost the scholarship because I have nobody to help with those kind of money. I was given the ticket on the 8th December 2012 and we travelled on the 9th December 2012.
We started the French course on 19th December 2012 and we were given audios to listen which will help us in the pronunciations and I have no computer at that time I had to ask Miriam. The scholarship is only responsible for the college fees only. Feeding, Lodging, School materials and Transportations is at our own cost.
Thanks and appreciation
We are grateful that you helped us with the computers. We really appreciate the role you are playing in our lives.
I would also like to extend my sincere appreciations to Miriam Mason Sesay and the Trustees of the Educ-Aid Sierra Leone.  Had it not been for them we should have been drop outs.
Alpha Bangura

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