Sierra Leone/Children Re-empowering
Independent Films, Teens
Still recovering from a brutal civil war which became infamous for the rebel's hacking off the limbs of old and young, how are Sierra Leone's children recovering their hold on the future.
An early morning fog hangs over the jungle in the rural district of Kailahun, Sierra Leone. Kailahun was one of the areas worst affected by Sierra Leone’s brutal eleven-year civil war.
It was in the sleepy village of Bomaru where rebels of the Revolutionary United Front (RUF) first crossed into the country from neighbouring Liberia marking the start of the conflict. Among the well documented atrocities were the forced conscription and drugging of children by rebels to create child soldiers.
Education was one of the early casualties of war, schools burned down teachers among those who fled.
SOUNDBITE (English) Abel Ngafua, Headmasterc, RC Primary School:
“There was no school in this area for 12 years. There was no school. Except maybe for children who went to Liberia, some went to Guinea. Some of them attended school there but in this Part of Sierra Leone there was no school.”
Abel Ngafua is the head master of the RC Primary School in Dawa, a village which borders Liberia. Early international aid efforts focused on rebuilding schools and Dawa received a new school through Plan International.
But now, Sierra Leone is experiencing a severe lack of trained teachers. Many schools are forced to operate with untrained teachers filling the gaps.
Responding to this need, UNICEF and partners are working together to improve the education system and bring educational opportunities to all children in the country.
Among a number of interventions is the Cross Border Schools Project, which trains teachers and school managers.
SOUNDBITE (English) Lydia Kapana, Save the Children:
“The state of education in Sierra Leone was that the structures are there obviously but there was a need for them to be built up, so our mandate was to strengthen those existing structures and initiate those that were not there in the first place.”
Francis Josiah is the first and second grade teacher at Dawa School. After completing the teacher training programme Francis now plans his lessons and believes he is a much more effective teacher.
SOUNDBITE (English) Francis Josiah, Teacher:
“The training was about managing children's behavior, then how to keep them safe in school then how to teach actively.”
Intermarriage is also common to this region. During the war many people married outside the country and as a result children often move between families.
SOUNDBITE (English) Tamba Gbemoh, Liberia Border Guard:
“Like me, I have a wife from Sierra Leone. So if my Children go to school in Sierra Leone, it’s no problem.”
In Dawa, there is a small group of children who walk a 10 mile round trip from Liberia every day to and from the school.
David is 18 years old and will be among the second post-war class to graduate primary school in Dawa. When David returned to Dawa in 2003 he expressed his wish to attend school to his father.
SOUNDBITE (English) David Vandy, Student:
“I told my father: I want to go to school now. But I want you to help me with the school fees. He told me that he couldn’t help me with my school fees.”
Not to be deterred, David went into the forest outside the village and began clearing himself a small patch of ground for cultivation. He grows chili peppers and cassava which he sells in a nearby market.
Despite the challenges facing education in this region progress is slowly being made through efforts by organizations like UNICEF and Save the Children as well as individual sacrifice by people like Francis who want to see the lot of their community improve,
The healing of wounds from the war is far from over, but through a gradual improvement in education a new generation of children are growing up with hope for a better future. David's dream would not take him far away from the classroom.
SOUNDBITE (English) David Vandy, Student:
“When I’m done with school I want to be a teacher.”
In this challenging context, the development community and local partners are facing down the odds to bring education and the chance for a better future to some of the most marginalized and forgotten of Sierra Leone’s children.
Year of Production: 2011
Length: 5 mins
Country: Sierra Leone
Sierra Leone/Children Re-empowering by DiplomaticallyIncorrect is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Share Alike 3.0 License.
- Muhamed Sacirbey UNTV-UNICEF
- Susan Sacirbey