Unique NGO consortium working with government of Sierra Leone to co-implement a COVID-19 education response program

The GPE NGO Consortium is a collective of highly experienced national and international NGOs with significant technical expertise, a deep understanding of the education system in Sierra Leone and the operational capacity to deliver quickly and effectively.

February 07, 2022 by Kalako Mondiwa, GPE NGO Consortium, Save the Children, Sierra Leone, and Pauline Nadim, Humanity & Inclusion - Sierra Leone and Liberia
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5 minutes read
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National back-to-school campaign launch by the deputy minister of MBSSE, in the presence of World Bank, National Children’s Commission, and NGO consortium partners, September 21, 2021, Freetown. Photo by Save the Children
National back-to-school campaign launch by the deputy minister of MBSSE, in the presence of World Bank, National Children’s Commission, and NGO consortium partners, September 21, 2021, Freetown.
Credit: Save the Children

“Following a series of the back-to-school campaign activities, we have seen a significant increase in number of children returning to school. Enrollment for classes 1–6 increased from 189 pupils (113 girls, 76 boys) to 303 pupils (175 girls, 128 boys). This is largest enrollment we have had and called for the School Management Committee to erect temporary classrooms in order to accommodate the additional students.”

Hannah Sallu, Head Teacher, Sorbeh Grima RC Primary School, Pujehun District

Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), with support from the World Bank and the Global Partnership for Education, established a strategic partnership with a unique NGO Consortium of seven national and international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) to implement parts of the National COVID-19 Education Response (and recovery) Program toward three outcomes:

  1. Boys and girls, including children with disabilities, access COVID-19 and education response (distance learning and return to school) messaging.
  2. Boys and girls, including children with disabilities, access inclusive, safe, and age-appropriate and gender-responsive distance learning opportunities.
  3. Boys and girls, including children with disabilities, return to safe, gender-sensitive and inclusive learning in schools.
Handicap International supports all technical areas to mainstream inclusion/disability.

“We lead and support the child protection and emergency preparedness/safety technical areas respectively. We operate as equal partners with international NGOs. Decision making is inclusive at all levels. There is mutual trust and respect for each other’s competencies and roles in the consortium.”

Boi-Jeneh Jalloh, Country Director, Foundation for Rural and Urban Transformation

Consortium partners leverage their strengths toward education for all

The consortium partners are passionate about achieving quality, inclusive and accessible education for all girls and boys, including children with disabilities and the most marginalized children across some of Sierra Leone’s most hard to reach communities in its 16 districts.

Among them, they have the global expertise, knowledge of best practices and a long history of working in close collaboration with the government of Sierra Leone. The consortium presents a unique combination of local and international NGOs.

“I have never felt so respected as a local NGO as I do now in this consortium of equals. I cannot ask for more. No wonder why these resounding achievements of this consortium. As a lead partner in rolling out Teaching at the Right Level (TaRL), Street Child is committed to support partners of this consortium to effectively and efficiently improve learning outcomes in the schools we are working.”

Kelfa Kargbo, Country Director, Street Child

Through the NGO Consortium’s activities under the emergency education response, collaborative relationships with the MBSSE, Teaching Service Commission (TSC), District Education Offices (DEOs), schools and communities are being established and strengthened to ensure activities are founded on an effective model and a strong, deep understanding of the education system at all levels.

Tiers of implementation

The consortium’s approach spans three key levels of implementation:

  • National level: Close collaboration and coordination with the MBSSE, TSC, pillar leads (emergency thematic group) and relevant technical working groups to refine and support the development of national guidelines and resources, including refining/reviewing current national guidelines and training resources to include inclusion and so on, contributing to in-service teacher training curriculum and so on.
  • District level: Close collaboration and capacity development of district authorities to take ownership of education activities, strengthen local-level education capacity and systems, conduct joint monitoring and provide support for expansion beyond the consortium’s target schools. The project schools were selected with the District Education Office to ensure there is no duplication and to be able to target the most marginalized and remote school systems that did not receive much support at the time.

“I am glad and open to embracing another project that will support education in Tonkolili district, and it is timely. Running schools during COVID-19 has special challenges that range from safety to school retention, coupled with existing challenges in various schools.”

Deputy Director, District Education Office, Tonkolili
Master’s teacher training on inclusive education in Kenema District, November 2021. Photo by Jumah Kamara, HI Rehabilitation & Inclusion technical advisor
Master’s teacher training on inclusive education in Kenema District, November 2021.
Credit:
Jumah Kamara, HI Rehabilitation & Inclusion technical advisor.

“I’m very impressed by inclusive education training. As for me I normally don’t spend full time in the trainings because I think I know everything. But with this training I learnt a lot, especially when it’s come to working with children who have different educational and teaching needs.”

MBSSE school supervisor trained on inclusive education, Tonkolili

  • Community level: The GPE consortium works alongside actors based at the community level (volunteers, teachers and parents). This community approach allows the project to be sustainable.

“If such projects would have been here before, no children and persons with disabilities would have been side-lined in community activities.”

Town Chief, Kenema

“I have raised awareness among children, adults and stakeholders as trained by GPE; I’m a respected figure now in my community because I have established a good relationship with the primary school head teacher.”

Community volunteer, Tonkolili
Concern Worldwide’s teacher refresher training in Kholifa Mayosso-Mamuntha, Tonkolili District, November 2021. Photo by Charlotte Woellwarth, Grants and Information Manager
Concern Worldwide’s teacher refresher training in Kholifa Mayosso-Mamuntha, Tonkolili District, November 2021.
Credit:
Charlotte Woellwarth, Grants and Information Manager

“We are so happy that our parents and teachers can now listen to us and do what we want. Before now it is the children who brush the compound, and it was so hard to do because the compound is large.”

Child participant in a focus group discussion, Moyamba District

Main achievements so far (July–December 2021):

  • 996 community learning circles established and supported
  • 1,526 community mobilizers and teachers trained to provide age-appropriate, inclusive and gender-sensitive support in community learning circles, disaggregated by gender
  • A pool of 80 inclusive education master trainers established to support inclusive education and social emotional learning
  • 63,713 children reached with age-appropriate, gender-responsive, child-friendly and disability-friendly messaging on COVID-19
  • 59,476 children reached with age-appropriate, gender-responsive, child-friendly and disability-friendly messaging on the education response available (distance learning and back to school)
  • 35,733 parents/caregivers and community members reached with information on how to support learning and well-being for all children, including girls and children with disabilities
  • 94% of target schools implementing school safety protocols as per government guidelines
  • 5,240 community and school leaders mobilizing the return of children to school and learning

“One of the best ways to achieve efficient delivery of services to citizens is through partnerships at all levels. When we set out to establish this NGO consortium, our goal was to reach the farthest and most remote areas quickly with quality learning opportunities. We have seen that this can be done, and we intend to use these methods in the future.”

Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education

The MBSSE actively works with non-state actors to support the government’s activities to achieve SDG 4 targets. Additionally, the MBSSE has Service Level Agreements endorsed by the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development with over 80 organizations.

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Sub-Saharan Africa: Sierra Leone

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The gpe programme is very interesting and exiting programme transformation and developments of basic and post basic education especially in the sub Saharan Africa and Asia has been the major goals and objectives of the program it's my candid opinion to call upon the well to do persons and government to implement the goals and objectives of gpe programme assist the less privileged societies especially in Africa Asia to benefit from gpe programme thank-you I am Abubakar Ibrahim Muhammad from G s s Goron Dutse Kano state ministry of education

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