|We will not be held down. We will keep climbing!|
So said, President Momoh a quarter of a century ago. It was not the only cause of the war but it has to be viewed as a significant contributor to the readiness of so many youngsters feeling unfulfilled and marginalised and thus ready to take up arms when the opportunity came to take control of something for once.
Last year, the University of Sierra Leone doubled the fees for most of its courses and in addition, the Minister has recently decided that no student may apply to sit the WASSCE (West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examination) unless he / she has a pass mark at BECE from at least 4 years before.
More years at school means more school fees but it does not mean more young people getting an education and good qualifications.
At EducAid, we are not in the habit of giving up, however frustrated we may be by the situation we find ourselves in so, we are trying to find ways of giving access to education to as many as we can.
Firstly, our teacher training programme continues and we are seeking funding to expand it and reach even more teachers so they can deliver the quality of education that enables their students to pass their exams (revolutionary here - believe me!)
Secondly, we are starting to find ways of delivering our own tertiary level courses at reasonable prices.
We now have 3000+ school children in our care. At £1,500 + a year per person for four years, how many can we help get to degree level when they reach that stage? Probably not many.
At £50 - £100 a year it will be a whole lot more possible for a whole lot more of them.
This year, we have started a Leadership Certificate course that we plan to build up to become a degree course in Leadership and Management. The University of Makeni are very keen to partner with us and accredit this course which makes it possible for us to just get on and do the work.
We are also looking at doing the same thing in Tropical Engineering and Technology, if we can find a way of getting it accredited. If we can offer a range of tertiary level courses ourselves, we can break down some of the barriers to access. We can also ensure the credibility and integrity of the courses and ensure that our young people come out with qualifications of value, not just pieces of pretty paper!
Thank you for the support of my fellow lecturers and course facilitators: Emily Brotherton, Ann Beatty, Manfred Pearce and Professor Joel Marrant. This is the beginning of yet another exciting EducAid journey.
If you are interested in knowing more about EducAid's work with vulnerable young Sierra Leoneans, please go to www.educaid.org.uk