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As Global Outreach Mission continues to bring the Gospel to a growing number of villages in rural Sierra Leone, we are increasingly faced with the realities of a damaged educational system significantly affecting those we have come to serve. This month, we would like to share with you the plight that we see regarding educational shortfalls.
Education has been a challenge since the devastating Sierra Leone Civil War that lasted from 1991-2002. This war made a casualty of the educational system, wiping out 1,270 primary schools and forcing 67 percent of all children out of school in 2001. More than a decade later, education is still recovering from the destruction caused by the conflict. The first nine years of education are mandatory, but this law remains virtually impossible to enforce due to the shortage of facilities left in the war’s wake. The nation continues to struggle with its school system and the difficult tasks of rebuilding schools, training teachers, and educating children who have never set foot inside a classroom.

The system of education in Sierra Leone comprises three basic levels: primary, junior secondary and senior secondary. All six years of primary education are free of cost. However, this free education is only available in authorized and approved schools which are very limited in rural areas. Many of the villages just do not have the financial resources to follow the government requirement to become an approved school location. Now, the few certified teachers in rural areas are leaving for the guarantee of payment in the urban areas. This year, we were faced with virtually no certified teachers for secondary education at some of our primary ministry sites. Girls living in rural areas typically have the toughest time reaching this level of schooling due to cultural beliefs that often discourage their participation. The few girls we have helped to overcome these harsh realities— many accepting Christ into their life—were faced with no option to continue their education.

Although girls’ educational access is improving, class completion remains scarce with high dropout rates and consistently low enrollment in secondary school. Early pregnancy, gender-based violence, child marriage, and cultural biases propagate the cycle of gender inequality. Sierra Leone has one of the world’s highest adolescent pregnancy rates, a phenomenon that is largely responsible for the high dropout rate among girls. Girls often get married as early as age 11, and more than 60 percent of girls throughout the country are married before the age of 18. Early marriage further hinders these girls’ abilities to pursue an education and gain independence. Shortages of facilities, supplies, and quality instructors have made it virtually impossible for all children to enroll in school, and a preference for boys’ education remains dominant. Girls are often instructed to stay home and perform domestic responsibilities while their brothers head to the classroom.

The Global missionary team in Sierra Leone, working with Dennis Campbell, attacked the problem head-on. During the month of September, we received the authorization to establish a new certified secondary education program on our key ministry campus. In October, the first group of girls started classes with four certified teachers that we have hired and relocated to this site.

We named the school “The Institute Place Secondary School of Mokanji.” By starting this new ministry program with four certified teachers, it will reach out to young people in the community to provide a Christ-centered education while meeting the standards of the Ministry of Education. We believe these classrooms will also be valuable for continuing adult education and pastoral training. As this village sits at a crossroad intersection and in the heart of major mining development, we believe it can become a real beacon in Christian education in the heartland of this country as it is blessed by God!

This was a major step of faith yet clearly the Lord has blessed many of our other school ministries around the country. We realized for children to have any hope for the future within their culture, this Christian educational venture was required. As our clean water initiative shares the Gospel in many villages and new believers are being baptized, this program allows us to begin providing a lasting education for the next generation of young Christians to enter the workforce in this country.

A gift of $150 a month will cover the cost of supporting a Christian teacher in this new school. Would you join us in sponsoring a teacher for a 10 month period? Or possibly sponsoring a student’s tuition at $25 for the books and teaching materials during the 10 months ahead? As we use our local church and library space, for now, our goal is to raise $25,000. This will fully develop the classroom space, hire teachers to meet the shortage for secondary education, and also provide a permanent, certified school with Christian oversight and leadership. Based on other experiences around Sierra Leone, we believe this can be the basis of a self-sustaining school within two years if we have the investment from people like you. Will you join us today on this exciting new project to redefine the future for these precious children?