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Plan International in Sierra Leone: girls' education

09 Oct 2019 - Fiona Raleigh

Plan International is a humanitarian organisation that works to advance children’s rights and equality for girls. Kaplan has been supporting the charity for many years and one of the projects we have helped with is in Sierra Leone. The project run by Plan International in Sierra Leone aims to improve access to teacher training, especially for women, in an effort to break down the barrier to girls’ education in rural parts of the country.

Former Kaplan student, Zuliana from Sierra Leone, was studying at Nottingham Trent International College (NTIC) when she heard about the project. Zuliana was immediately interested in finding out more and asked the College for help.

Staff at NTIC helped Zuliana arrange a volunteering opportunity with Plan International in her home country of Sierra Leone, and so she was able to spend time visiting some of the schools that the project supports.

Plan International in Sierra Leone

Plan International in Sierra Leone

There is a lack of female teachers in certain regions of Sierra Leone, so by training young women using distance learning, this project is giving over 400 women across the country access to teaching qualifications, and helping more young girls go to school.

The Student Teachers complete their training at schools located across 5 districts. The aim of having more female teachers at these schools is to provide access to education for young girls who otherwise wouldn’t be able to attend school.

In the past, most of the schools were understaffed and employed mostly male teachers. But now, with female Student Teachers assigned to these schools, there is a better balance, so parents feel more comfortable sending their girls to school.

Plan International conducts field visits to monitor the various projects in the region, collect information on the overall impact of the work, and discuss progress and strategies for overcoming any challenges.

Zuliana says that in the beginning, many local communities across the region did not consider this project to be important or to have any beneficial impact, but that more recently, as excellent progress has been made, people’s opinions have changed.

Not only does the project enable young girls to go to school but it also has an impact on the lives of young Student Teachers, whose work prospects have improved significantly.

Many of the Student Teachers did not finish their education due to financial constraints, but thanks to this project, they now aspire to become certified teachers and work in secondary schools. In Sierra Leone, secondary schools are typically staffed by men, so this ambition demonstrates the level of empowerment the young women feel.

Plan International in Sierra Leone

During Zuliana’s visit, Student Teachers talked about how the project has completely changed their lives as their confidence has improved.

Fatmata from Moyamba says:

“Because of this project, I have realised that no condition is permanent in life. You can positively change your current status if you are determined and focused.”

As well as this, the project has contributed immensely to the way women are viewed in some communities. Many Student Teachers are proud that they are now more involved with community meetings and important decision-making. They believe that the barriers that existed between them and the people in their communities have been broken down, thanks to the project.

Zuliana says:

“Spending time with Plan International in Sierra Leone was a life-changing experience, which changed my perspective. Although I’m Sierra Leonean, I never really knew about what was happening around me, or the daily struggles that some people go through, especially in the provinces.

The Student Teachers have inspired me to be the best person I can be, and to never give up hope. Everything about my visit was empowering.”

Zuliana is now studying for a Law degree at Nottingham Trent University, and hopes to reach her full potential, just like the Student Teachers.

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