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School Challenges

As Janet O'Shea prepares to visit Sierra Leone this month with Bethany Burrage and Simon Allaby, it is timely to conside the many challenges our schools in Sierra Leone face.

Read below Janet's first-hand account

Teaching has always traditionally been described as a vocation – ‘a strong belief that one ought to pursue a particular career’ (Oxford Dictionary). This is probably true for the majority of UK teachers but in Sierra Leone?

The Sierra Leone Mission (SLM) supports 23 schools and each month a grant is given to 90+ teachers. Many of these teachers are not trained, however some have received Teacher Training and others attend sessions after a day at school. Their day starts at 8am and concludes at 2pm, they receive a quarter of the pay paid to teachers working in Government schools.

Every child deserves a good education

Again, this is probably true for the majority of children in the UK but in Sierra Leone?

The teachers work in overcrowded classrooms, usually sharing a room with up to three other age groups. Resources are very limited with minimal aids available, often a few books and some chalk. The Government of Sierra Leone requires children to attend school. The attendance numbers vary with the seasons, a class of 80 might reduce to 30 depending on the needs of the harvest. Usually, the younger children are in the biggest classes but as the children grow older they are ‘needed’ at home. Over 5000 children attend our schools. In order to learn children need to be comfortable, well-nourished and happy.

Water is essential and a well is deemed a priority by the government. However many wells are broken and no one knows how to mend them. Most of our children are malnourished and hungry; quite often they fall asleep in class.

School buildings in the UK are mostly safe, well maintained, decorated, furnished and inviting. However, in Sierra Leone?

The teachers and children work in classrooms that have poor ventilation, dusty atmospheres, broken furniture and crumbling structure.

SLM Programme

In 2023, the SLM started a programme addressing the state of the school buildings.

Tombo School was so unsafe that it collapsed – thankfully after SLM had been able to provide funding for a new school.

The school children at Fogbo had been meeting in the Church building but a government official would not allow this practice to continue so the village started to build a new school. The SLM helped to fund the roof, windows and doors.

The villages at Kabala and Kamakonthakay did not have schools, so again the villagers built them and the SLM funded the roofs, doors and windows.

However, real problems still exist in some of the schools. Foo Foo Water desperately needs a new build as the school shows signs of collapse.The flooring in many of the schools is a hazard and the ceilings are often non-existent. In addition five of our schools, have a problem that can more easily be solved… termites!

This is the situation.

Continuing in 2024 

Now in 2024 the SLM has already addressed the grant that the teachers receive, increasing it marginally. The SLM would like to continue to improve the schools in Sierra Leone. God has blessed this work in the past and we are confident that what He has started He will complete.

If you have been challenged by this ongoing work, please prayerfully consider helping us to improve the lives of the children and teachers in Sierra Leone.



If you would like to make a donation, to help SLM's work in Sierra Leone, just click on the Donations button, located at the top of each website page. Please also state if you would like your donation to go towards a particular project.

Alternatively donate by Bank Transfer

Barclays Bank

Sort code: 20-16-08, Account number: 30799076, Account name: Sierra Leone Mission 

(NB We are very grateful to receive anonymous donations, but when making a bank transfer donation, the donor's name is needed for auditing purposes. Please be assured this information will remain private.)

Or send a cheque to 

Sierra Leone Mission. Postal address: Janet Foord, 2 Cheyne Close, Church Milton, Sittingbourne, Kent, ME10 2SQ