Sierra Leone: On Wednesday, 9th June 2021 Save the Children Sierra Leone and the Ministry of Basic and Secondary School Education (MBSSE) jointly announced the launch of the Safe Back to School brief on access to learning during COVID-19 response and recovery to support the National Development Plan.
The two institutions mentioned in the release that following school closures on March 19th 2020, in a bid to reduce the spread of the virus, over 2 million children had their learning disrupted for a period of seven months, adding that the onset of COVID-19 highlighted challenges for education in terms of enrolment, quality and inclusion.
“According to the World Bank, 82% of children completed primary school in 2019 and 72% completed senior secondary school. Additionally, just 12 percent of children aged 7-14 years have functional numeracy skills and 16 percent functional literacy skills,” the release maintained.
MBSSE and Save the Children also explained in their release that being at home meant that many children, especially girls, had to help out with domestic chores, and were unable to focus on their studies and that these children are at risk of lagging far behind their peers if they do return to school, or if they do not return at all.
For example, a recent interview with a girl in Kailahun by Save the Children on the impact of COVID-19 on education revealed that five of her friends did not return to school because they got pregnant before the reopening of school in October.
Save the Children stated that the government of Sierra Leone is making great strides in education with a strong commitment to inclusion. “However, there is a need to do more if we are to ensure that all children in Sierra Leone are to access free quality inclusive education and a safe and sustainable return to school. Every child in Sierra Leone must be supported to return to learning, get a sense of normalcy, and be protected.”
Save the Children further called on government to give special attention to the most marginalised and deprived children; ensure Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) to monitor attendance and drop-out rates of children, disaggregating data across gender, age, disability, urban versus rural locations and socio-economic status to facilitate targeted support to vulnerable groups; keep learning alive through the strengthening of inclusive distance learning and catch up classes and more.
By [email protected]