By: Dr. Moinina David Sengeh
We often hear about government policies that are just on paper. That’s the default we assume. But then we hear about Radical Inclusion – one central policy of the Government of Sierra Leone that seeks to ensure that everyone and especially those historically and systematically left behind are given the same access to quality education. Radical inclusion prioritises pregnant girls and parents learners, kids with special needs, the poor and those in remote areas. Everyone at MBSSE and beyond has embraced this policy fully in practice- we hear it everywhere and the (less fortunate) children of Sierra Leone are grateful!
One such champion is Dr Olive Musa. Dr Musa is the Director of Non-formal and Adult education at the Ministry. She leads (silently in the background) on several projects including the deployment of 202 Adult Literacy Centers around the country and ensuring that Literacy Organizers and Volunteers continue teaching literacy, numeracy and life skills in additional 60 Community Learning Centers. I tell her she does the Lord’s work because her unit is often under-resourced.
Just in 2022, through the Out of School Girls Integration program with UNFPA Sierra Leone, Dr Musa and her team will reintegrate 800 learners (11-18 yr olds) in schools in Kambia, Moyamba, Koinadugu, Pujehun. Prior to integration, these girls get literacy, numeracy and sexual and reproductive health training. They get a package that includes shoes, bags, uniforms, books etc. They meet with a nurse and other counseling professionals before going back to school. For the 200 girls integrated back to school in march, 100% of them completed their school year and are primed to return next week. 600 other girls will start school on September 5th in those four districts.
There are several other partners who are working on integrating girls. Others like Purposeful are helping with data, new thinking and creating spaces for them including grants. We thank them all.
Yes, we achieved gender parity in four years. Yes, we have over an additional 1m learners since President Bio’s Free Quality School Education. It didn’t happen by magic, it’s been happening progressively year on year. It is not the final number, we have over 230,000 out of school children alone in Primary School. Yes we have more work to do and we are committed to doing it with your support!
The one thing that’s clear is that everyone and especially my team are not just believers; they are champions of #RadicalInclusion because it is the Just thing to do!