Featured Partner: Street-Child Supporting Education in Sierra Leone

Today EdLab met with Juliet Appleby from Street-Child to discuss their important and exciting educational projects in one of the world’s poorest countries, Sierra Leone. As a result of this meeting EdLab students will be able to get involved in this work either through an EdLab challenge or a more in depth, EdLab project.

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In Sierra Leone there is a dangerously worrying fact facing vulnerable young girls looking for a fair start in life: they’re simply not being given the opportunity to stay in school.

UNICEF research shows that even a single year of secondary education has the potential to increase a girl’s future earnings by up to 25%. Investment in girls’ education also has a multiplier effect: educated girls benefit from better family planning and have healthier children who are more likely to remain in education themselves. But Sierra Leonean girls are increasingly likely to drop out of school at this vital stage.  As a charity working at the very forefront of educational development in the region, Street Child felt it was imperative to find out why. So, we decided to ask them, and spoke to more than 2,000 adolescent girls across Sierra Leone to discuss the issues preventing them from going to school.

The biggest barrier to education that the girls identified was poverty, but they also talked about teen pregnancy, parental pressures, and the need for better schools, teachers and social support.  Street Child’s response is to make sure that girls are not just going to school but staying there.  Our appeal will help a girl’s family create a secure business that will fund their education long into the future.

Marie’s Case Study

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“It’s been two years since I was in school. My father and mother separated and she had no one to take care of us. We were struggling and things got difficult. I was forced to drop out of school.

It was not that I am stupid. I came top in my class in the BECE [Sierra Leone’s GCSE equivalent]. I wanted to be educated, I wanted to be a lawyer, it was my dream. But my father wouldn’t support me and I had to leave school. What was I meant to do?

I was selling small goods to help support my family. Other than that I had nothing to do. People could see I had nothing to occupy me. It was hard. Then I met a guy who said he would support me. I understood what he meant. I was 16 and he was 25.

I came to have feelings for him. But that was because of what he was doing for me. He gave me hope. But I don’t think he liked me. Eventually he got me pregnant but he denied that he was the father.  I was betrayed.

When I fell pregnant I just felt weak. I wasn’t able to do hard work. I often fell over. My mother managed to get some money together to get me treatment, which helped me get through the pregnancy and then the delivery.

My friends told me I was too young to have a child. And that my poverty had made it happen. That hurt me. I never said anything but I didn’t ask for this. It was a mistake.

Now I have a son. But things haven’t changed much. I have a baby but there’s no father to support us. I live with my mother but things are hard. Sometimes I have to ask my Auntie for money. I help my Grandmother sell food at the top of our road to get by.

Education is important. When you’re at school you have the chance to change your life. I believe if I become educated those who’ve been talking down to me will have to change their views. I want people to look at me and say ‘you’ve turned out well’.  And If I could continue school I’d want to become a lawyer. I want to defend people who can’t defend themselves. I’d want to make sure that people can get the rights that they deserve.

I wish I could go back to school. But we just don’t have the money for me to continue.”

For more information see: http://www.street-child.co.uk/

This is therefore an important educational project to support and we have opportunities for you to get involved via an EdLab challenge, or project. Get in Touch!