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Friday, July 1, 2022

GPE-NGO Consortium ‘learning circles’ made education simple for us -Pupils

By Alhaji Haruna Sani

Pupils from across four districts in Sierra Leone have informed this medium of how the Global Partnership for Education’s (GPE) sponsored learning circle made education easier by instilling much confidence in them during their learning course.

The learning circle was part of the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education’s (MBSSE) innovative partnership that established a consortium of seven National and International Non-Governmental organisations led by Save the Children International (SCI) with support from GPE.

The seven NGO Consortiums include Save the Children International, Concern Worldwide, Handicap International, Plan International, Focus 1000, FoRUT and Street Child. Learning Circle was championed by Street Child and about 1000 learning circles centres were established nationwide.

The NGO Consortium has been implementing some Covid-19 Education Emergency across Sierra Leone which the ministry is implementing with support from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) through the World Bank to support the Free Quality Education Project.

The project which seeks to address barriers  to equitable access to save, inclusive, quality learning opportunities for girls and boys including children living with disabilities in primary and Junior Secondary School s in remote and marginalized communities in Sierra Leone.

The project capacitated teachers with several trainings such as the Inclusive Education Master Training, Teachers Professional Development (TPD), Teaching at the Right Level (TARL) among others. The learning circle helped increase literacy and numeracy skills among vulnerable pupils who were selected by community and school authority through vulnerability criteria assessment.

In learning circles special classes were conducted for vulnerable pupils after normal schooling hours through the inclusive education in which teachers give opportunities to the physically challenged and pupils with other disability to fell confidence and safe to learn. The learning circle also prepare covid-19 free environment for pupils.

10 years old class four pupils Alhaji I.Kargbo, of the Sierra Leone Muslim Brotherhood Primary School in Mange village Portloko district explain how learning circle built his confidence to participate in class.

“Prior to the introduction of learning circle in my school, I never participate in class because I fear my teacher will discipline me if I miss the right answers to his questions, but the learning circle has made me see my teacher as a senior colleague or parent. I learn fast and easily understand during the learning circle session than in normal class. We want the learning circle to continue,” Kargbo said.

10 years old physically challenged Mabinty Kanu had stop going to school some two years back. She left school because of provocation due to her physical status. She was regarded as an evil spirit rather than a normal being.

“I unwillingly return to school when my teachers went home to canvass my parents during the back to school campaign. Upon my return, my colleagues never laughs at me or calls me names, my teachers paid more attention on me and I enjoyed the learning circle which was introduced. With the learning circle I was performing better than ever before especially when learning materials including a solar radio were given to us,” Mabinty Kanu said.

Elizabeth Mawendeh is the Head Teacher of United Muslim Brethren in Christ Jusu Memorial Primary School in Bo explains how the GPE project attracted more pupils to attend schools. “Few months after the project was launched in my school  which followed the supply of school learning materials and introduction of learning circle, the school enrollment shoot up from just over 200 to over 350”.

She said teachers who went through the mentorship support for inclusive education were better skilled in handling pupils with physical and other disabilities which inspired them to attend schools.

Mawendeh appealed to GPE to continue the project so that more kids especially extremely vulnerable ones would be happy to attend schools.

During a focus group interview in Mano in Jaiama Chiefdom in Bo district parents and community stakeholders and teachers begged for the continuation of the project and if possible extending it to more schools. Similar requests were made in Pujehun and Kenema.

Teachers, parents and pupils in all the schools visited applauded the GPE project and pleaded for a continuation of it.

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