Voluntary Service Overseas

Every Sierra Leonean child literate and numerate through effective EdTech

Lead Organization

Voluntary Service Overseas

Kingston upon Thames, England, United Kingdom

http://www.vsointernational.org

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To learn more about – or provide significant funding to – this project, please contact Lever for Change.

Project Summary

Sierra Leone is struggling to give its children the education they deserve. Primary schoolchildren are not learning basic skills; data shows 97% scored zero for reading comprehension and had limited competency in math by Grade 2. Sierra Leone wants to tackle this learning crisis. Our consortium, which includes the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education of Sierra Leone, will combine innovative, award-winning education technology with a robust systems model to solve this crisis. We will transform the way education is delivered in Sierra Leone by training teachers and master trainers and engaging communities to use our highly effective learning software. We will deliver at least 100% improvement in reading and math scores for one million children and equip Sierra Leone’s education system for sustainable quality and inclusion. As a result, the life chances of one million children, particularly girls and children with special needs, will be improved.

Problem Statement

Sierra Leone has some of the poorest development indicators in the world. The country continues to struggle to rebuild key institutions, including schools, in the aftermath of its civil war (1991-2002) and recent Ebola outbreaks. In 2018, the government made a commitment to reach every child with education but lacks the systems and infrastructure to do so. A shortage of schools and teachers and a general lack of resources has resulted in crowded classrooms where children often fail to obtain basic reading and math skills.As many as 40% of teachers are unqualified. This affects teacher motivation and student retention, undermining the learning experience for the child. According to the UNDP Human Development Report 2016, the rate of completion for children in primary education in Sierra Leone is only 47.8% - less than half the primary school age population. This chronic underperformance is untenable and demands that a new model for universal primary education be institutionalized to ensure effective and sustainable learning outcomes for all primary school children in Sierra Leone. Decades of research shows that investments in education pays off with better health and gender outcomes and increases in the Gross Domestic Product and individual earnings. Without at least a basic education, the next generation of Sierra Leoneans will be trapped in a cycle of poverty. With a strong learning foundation, all children can reach their potential as productive citizens.

Solution Overview

The project will transform the lives of children by providing access to our world class education technology (Edtech) software that comprehensively introduces them to a broad range of foundational concepts, supports their practice and evaluates their progress. The project will deliver software for reading and math on solar-powered tablets to every child in Sierra Leone in Primary 2. We will train teachers, school management, parents and school communities to effectively use the technology and integrate it into school the curriculum. Training will focus on child-centred, gender-inclusive teaching practices, driving up enrolment, retention and quality learning outcomes. Strong scientific evidence shows that significant advances in learning take place if we bring together ‘child plus tablet plus software’ with effective and motivated teachers. This combination is crucial. Working with a top academic institution, we will analyse learning gains and incorporate findings during the inception and validation phase and adapt the process accordingly. The innovative onebillion software, onecourse, allows children to work through thousands of interactive reading and math activities at their own pace. onecourse provides real-time data on usage, progress and mastery. Teachers can use this data to track the overall progress of their class and individual learners. School management can use it for monitoring and accountability. An online dashboard designed for the MBSSE will allow education management to monitor school performance by district, region and nationally. Our academic partner will evaluate progress in raising learning gains systematically across the project as the programme scales.

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