In a country where only 57% of primary school teachers are trained to teach1 and 52.2% of primary level students drop out of school2, the need to improve the quality of education is critical to the future well being of Sierra Leone.
As we approach the end of another academic year, many of us may take for granted the calibre and pedagogical skill sets of our teachers and the essential role they play in ensuring high-quality educational outcomes. Unfortunately, in the majority of sub-Saharan Africa this is far from the reality.
Last week, Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Education, Science and Technology, with funding through the World Bank, mandated CODE to assume an immense challenge: upgrading approximately 12% of nation’s primary education teachers to better support their ability to teach reading and writing as part of the nationwide Revitalizing Education Development in Sierra Leone (REDiSL).
In Sierra Leone, almost half of the primary grade teachers are untrained to teach. CODE is working to change this. In collaboration with its local, in-country partner, The Association of Language and Literacy Educators (TALLE), CODE is undertaking to provide training for 4,400 primary school teachers as well as 900 primary school head trainers, supervisors and school inspectors.
To achieve such ambitious results, CODE will have some impressive help. It will leverage its international cadre of academic literacy experts from around the world. It will also work with 176 Sierra Leone “teacher trainers” (many of whom have already participated in CODE programming, but who will also receive further upgrading) to deliver highly concentrated professional development programming during the overall six-week project period.
CODE’s involvement in the REDiSL initiative also serves to amplify the organization’s on-going comprehensive literacy program, Reading Sierra Leone, (first initiated in 2011), which combines teacher training, local book development and library resourcing – a program funded through the thoughtful generosity of Canadian private donors that has already directly benefited over 100,000 students.
1 OECD. Human Development Index, % Primary School Trained to Teach, 2013
2 OECD Human Development Index, Primary School Dropout Rate, 2013