In a bid to promote education in the country, World Vision Sierra Leone has launched an assessment report that highlights challenges that militate against improved learning outcomes for children in schools with recommendations for sustained development of teacher competencies.
The report was launched at the Family Kingdom resort at Aberdeen in Freetown and witnessed by Education Ministry officers, paramount chiefs, heads of local councils, WFP, UNICEF, Actionaid and other partners in the educational sector.
The major thrust of World Vision’s education strategy, according to the National Director of the organisation, Leslie Scott, is transition from relief to holistic transformational development, basic education and area development in water, sanitation, health, agriculture and microeconomic enterprise.
He said the organisation is concerned about the status of education in their Area Development Program operational areas which are still fraught with the problems of low access to schooling and to education generally, and high dropout rates for girls, amongst others.
He noted that the main thrust of the study is to determine those factors that impinge on effective learning outcomes in schools in World Vision’s operational areas with a particular focus on children’s ability to read and comprehend, adding that the data generated from the assessment provides adequate evidence to enable meaningful conclusions to be made by stakeholders in the educational sector.
Mr. Scott further pointed out that World Vision has five key areas of focus on the educational sector, which include partnering for change, community engagement, support effective teaching, capacity building, volunteer localized learning resources.
World Vision’s Education Innovation Manager, Alfred Moses Kamara, said the objective of the assessment report is to understand the factors responsible for children not comprehending in school. He said the organisation’s activities are lined with the education sector plan of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology.
Consultants of the assessment report, Ekundayo J.D. Thompson and Abdullah Mansaray of the University of Sierra Leone, explained that World Vision Sierra Leone commissioned the study in January 2013 to identify and assess the factors that militate against improved learning outcomes for children in schools.
According to World Vision, most children in grade 3 in the Area Development Programs cannot read and comprehend at an appreciable rate.
The consultants said the context of the assessment is the perceived gaps in learning outcomes in spite of the substantial investment in school infrastructure development, community awareness-raising on the need to send children to school and learning materials, amongst others.
The consultants recommended the need for the development of a national curriculum framework, sustainable development of teacher competencies, transition from teacher cantered to child cantered pedagogy, community mobilization to increased access and retention, intensive use of information and communication technology (ICT), advocacy for the effective implementation of basic education policies and legislation.
The consultants also recommended the provision of educational infrastructure through rehabilitation and reconstruction and construction, support for the supervision and monitoring of schools and learning process, tackling adult literacy and rural poverty.
Heads of local councils from Pujehun, Bo, Kono and Bonthe commended World Vision for the assessment report and promised to implement some of the recommendations in the report.
Deputy Director of Education South, John A. Swarray, said the assessment report will be used by the ministry to promote education across the country.
Rev. Dr. Canon Modupe Taylor-Pearce expressed disgust over the fallen standards in education and called for collective efforts towards educational promotion.
A brief interactive forum on the way forward for the educational sector formed the high point of the ceremony.