Sierra Leone: Access to early learning helps build future success

Over 4,000 children are benefiting from newly constructed early childhood development centers with UNICEF and GPE support.

March 07, 2024 by UNICEF Sierra Leone
2 minutes read
A group of people tour a new Early Childhood Development Center in Sierra Leone. Credit: UNICEF Sierra Leone/2023/Davies
A group of people tour a new Early Childhood Development Center in Sierra Leone.
Credit: UNICEF Sierra Leone/2023/Davies

Early childhood development (ECD) can help shape children’s cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical development, and future success. “We must start to build the foundation for a child’s learning journey in their early years of life,” said Rudolf Schwenk, UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone.

Around 25% of children aged 3 to 5 years are enrolled in early childhood education in Sierra Leone, while nearly 600,000 (78%) are missing out on critical opportunities for their development.

Steps towards meeting the need for ECD

In partnership with UNICEF and with the support of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and the Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA), Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has increased preschool access for more than 4,000 children across six districts.

“By investing in pre-primary education our aim is to expand universal and equitable access to quality early childhood education, contributing to building the future for children and the human capital the country needs.”

Rudolf Schwenk, UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone

Twenty-nine brand new early childhood development (ECD) centers were commissioned in the Karene and Moyamba Districts, marking a total of 59 centers constructed so far and doubling up the support to boost early learning for children living in underserved districts, which include Pujehun, Kambia and Bombali as well.

Each ECD center has two classrooms (35 students per class), a playground, furniture and water sanitation and hygiene facilities and a solar-powered borehole. Additionally, teaching and learning materials including locally made toys are provided (for a class of 35 students).

GPE supports teachers to provide quality education

As part of the program, over 11,000 pre-school teachers were trained on Early Grade Reading and Early Grade Mathematics Assessment with support from GPE.

About 220 educators are also being funded to deliver play and early stimulation activities along with the literacy and numeracy curriculum.

The four-year program with GPE aims to increase access to early learning and early stimulation opportunities for children between the ages of 3 and 5 years, improve learning for children in early primary grades and strengthen systems for decentralized school monitoring and data management.

Aiming to fulfill the potential of every child

“The ECD program complements the Free Quality School Education initiative and is in line with the Education Sector Plan, which focuses on improving access to equitable and quality education for every child in Sierra Leone,” said Mr Conrad Sackey, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education. “We are, indeed, grateful to our partners for the collective efforts and support to ensure every child in our country has access to quality education so that their potential could be realized to the fullest.”


Related blogs

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. All fields are required.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.

Plain text

  • Global and entity tokens are replaced with their values. Browse available tokens.
  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • Web page addresses and email addresses turn into links automatically.