Sierra Leone schools finally will reopen in October after a 5-month Covid shutdown
How do you help students now at an education milestone with a looming big exam that determines their fate – or which could result in more barriers to reaching their life goals?
Sierra Leone students have already been through a lot to reach 9th grade or 12th grade. With previous stops and starts, senior high students are often 20 years old and more. They’ve been in schools with too few teachers qualified to teach the curriculum.
Now, they’ve a 5-month school gap to fill because of Covid.
We’re working on improving Rotifunk’s educational system with teacher training. But what happens to the kids now in school?
CCET-SL’s Tutorial Program, going into its fourth year, tackles this problem, turning it into an opportunity.
Rosaline Kaimbay saw local secondary schools don’t have enough trained and qualified teachers to cover the full curriculum, especially in math, science and English.
Her solution: offer tutorials, but not just one-on-one or for small groups. Offer after-school classes to students from three schools preparing for national exams. And make it free.With Sherbro Foundation funding, 9th and 12th grade students came in droves for this free extra help. CCET-SL had to limit enrollment to the capacity of the CCET-SL education center, about 75 students at a time.
The program has been a big success and continues to grow. 170 students are anticipated this year, exceeding the size of the CCET-SL center. Classes are in two shifts and overflow classes go to a nearby primary school in afternoons.
Students facing the biggest barriers to education are invited for tutoring, providing a boost for the most vulnerable: orphans, those in single-parent households, often woman-led, or away from their home village living with guardians, and the lowest income families. 80% are girls.
The Tutorial program adds quality to the education these students receive – and does it using existing resources.
The best qualified local teachers combine forces in extra classes for students from three schools.
For a modest $40 monthly stipend, these dedicated teachers come after school, week after week, for another round of teaching over the whole school year.
The result: 9th grade tutorial students each year got higher results on average on the senior high entrance exam than peers in their home school, better on average than all chiefdom schools and than most of the district’s 40 secondary schools. They took many of the top three results in their home school.
The tutorial students, 80% girls, also became motivated to continue their education. More went on to senior high at the age when girls typically drop-out and marry. With extra support and their daughters’ success, more parents saw the value of education and kept their girls in school.
Create All-Day 12th grade School
Rosaline has taken 12th grade after-school tutoring to a higher level. The total number of 12th graders in Rotifunk schools remains small. Most have dropped out by this point.
Rosaline convinced school principals it would be more effective to bring all 12th grade students together and teach one all-day 12th grade school with the best local teachers at the CCET-SL center.
Students get the best teaching Rotifunk has to offer. The intensive all-day school prepares them for the exam that’s the entry to all higher education and requested on job applications. All 12 senior high subjects are taught, including classes for college and commercial tracks.
School in the time of Covid
12th grade after-school tutoring converted to the all-day school in December 2019. Covid then closed schools at the end of March 2020. Still, with six months total of focused teaching, we’re hoping this group now taking the national exam will do better than in the past.
CCET-SL will resume both the 12th-grade school and 9th grade after-school tutoring when Sierra Leone schools reopen in October. They observe the same procedures as all schools, including Covid safety procedures: required masks, spacing out students and frequent hand-washing. The CCET-SL Center has large windows to open on both sides creating air flow.
9th grade tutorial classes and the 12th grade school will be more important than ever in helping Rotifunk students catch up after missing five months of school for Covid. No Zoom in Rotifunk!
You can step in and sponsor a 9th grade or 12th grade student for 10 months of classes for only $40 for the whole year. Sponsor a student here.
Together, we can help 170 students stay on track and make big gains in their quest for a complete education. More than that. They’re preparing for the next step that lies ahead. Thank you!
— Arlene Golembiewski, Executive Director