Education in Sierra Leone is on an exciting new track and we’re expanding our 2018 scholarship program, too. Before our annual scholarship campaign kicks off in July, here’s a preview of the changes.
New government, education changes
First, the new Sierra Leone president sworn in April 2018 has made education his first priority. He is doubling the portion of the government’s budget going to education from 10% to 20%.
President Maada Bio’s first big initiative is to make school free for primary and secondary school students.
He also plans to work on teacher standards, training and pay to improve quality of education.
Our scholarship program will still be needed as much as ever. School uniforms cost more than school fees and that expense is another barrier to girls attending school.
Last year with your strong response to the scholarship campaign, we supplied uniforms to two-thirds of girls receiving scholarships.
All girls also received exercise books to take class notes — essential for schools with no textbooks.
For 2018-19, a scholarship will consist of a uniform and exercise books. This will actually cost 40% to 50% more than the past school fee only scholarship – or $25 to $30 for junior and senior high girls. Uniforms will again be sewn by local Rotifunk tailors to keep costs down, as Sierra Leone’s high inflation drives prices up year by year.
We made a major increase in scholarships last year. We’ll target for the same number of scholarships for 2018-19 – but at higher value. Sending 410 girls in one rural community to school is exceptional. Senior-high girls will get priority.
With your help, we’d love to send even more girls to school or add additional supplies for each girl. Or do both!
Time to help disadvantaged boys
We’ve gotten a lot of local feedback for several years about why boys never get scholarships. Following Bumpeh Chiefdom Paramount Chief Caulker’s lead, we’ve focused to date on scholarships for girls as a means of achieving parity between girls and boys attending school.
Enrollment for junior-high girls is approaching that of boys. And there are many disadvantaged boys who experience the same barriers to education as girls.
So, this year we will offer 10% additional scholarships for boys. It’s important for boys to succeed, too. Boys who struggle to go to school need to feel someone is behind them, offering encouragement and support.
Sending two girls to college on scholarship
You made sure we reached our goal of adding a second college scholarship for another graduate in 2018-19!
Big thanks go out to all who responded to our request in March-April to fund college scholarships for two deserving girls.
Aminata Kamara, left, recipient of our first college scholarship is in her first year at the University of Sierra Leone’s Institute for Public Administration and Management in Freetown.
We especially want to thank the former Peace Corps volunteer who stepped up with a matching grant to pay for half of a $1,700 scholarship if we could find new donors for the other half.
We did, and this generous anonymous donor upped his match by another $250 for donations by Cincinnati area Peace Corps people. They responded donating more than double that amount.
So, collectively, the Peace Corps community is sending one girl to college in full! They know the crucial value of education in developing countries.
This means we can maintain the outstanding young woman who started at the University of Sierra Leone for 2017-18 for another year AND start a second student in her college career. The scholarships cover tuition, fees and a living stipend.
We began five years ago with the modest goal of sending some girls to one secondary school. Your response has been tremendous. The lives of over 600 girls in four schools have been changed by the opportunity to go to school on your scholarships.
And now, two young women will have the opportunity to reach their full potential by attending college.
It definitely took a village to support these girls’ educations — an American “village”.
We’re indebted to all our American villagers for making the dreams of so many girls come true.