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Sightsavers from the field

Education for all in Sierra Leone

February 2020
Abdul at his inclusive school in Sierra Leone

In Sierra Leone, you’re helping to give visually impaired children like Abdul the chance to gain an education.

Last year we revisited our Education for All project in the Bombali district, Sierra Leone, and met 13-year-old Abdul.

Abdul is one of many children who has benefited from a Sightsavers project that aims to give all children with disabilities access to better quality education.

A teacher assists physically disabled student at school.
Teacher and inclusion champion Hassanatu assists physically disabled student Mohammed.

Sadly, in Sierra Leone and many other countries, children with disabilities can often be considered not worth educating. Even if families do decide to send their visually impaired children to school, teachers can lack the skills and resources to accommodate the children’s needs.

Children who miss out on a quality education can then become trapped in a cycle of poverty and dependence. Accessing housing, medical facilities and even food are all huge challenges for a person with disabilities who has not been to school or learned a particular skill.

Children look through a window.
Students look out the window of their classroom at Abdul's school.

Thanks to your fantastic support, Sightsavers is training teachers in 45 mainstream schools in Sierra Leone. They are receiving training on how to assist and include children with visual impairments and other disabilities and allow them to reach their full potential.

Kadie Moore, head teacher at Abdul’s school in Bombali, Sierra Leone, is one of 89 head and deputy head teachers trained in inclusive and special needs education. Kadie is now better equipped with a range of skills to help identify and address her students’ needs and has implemented seemingly small changes in her school that can make a huge difference for a child with disabilities.

“We learned that if a student has a problem with their eyes, if you seat them at the back they will not see,” explains Kadie. “When you place them at the front of the classroom before the blackboard, they will be able to see properly.”

Headteacher Kady Moore talks outside her school.
Abdul's headteacher Kadie is proud to be an inclusivity champion and is working hard to ensure every student in her school can shine.

To promote a positive message about including children with disabilities in education, parents and students are also being appointed as ‘disability champions’.

Abdul is a prime example of a disability champion in his school. Born with cataracts, Abdul could easily have missed out on an education. As part of the project, Abdul received Sightsavers-supported surgery and had his sight restored.

Dressed in his smart uniform, Abdul told us how he loves going to school and that his favourite subject is maths. He also enjoys PE and particularly enjoys playing football, something he could not do before.

“Before I had my surgery I could not play football and I could not come to school myself.”

Abdul draws on his own experience to help others and prove that they, like him, are as capable of learning as anyone else. It was truly wonderful to meet Abdul, and hearteningly he continues to champion inclusive education and be a true inspiration for others.

Thanks to this project you’ve helped fund in Sierra Leone, there are now 824 more children with disabilities in mainstream education, allowing them to be educated alongside their classmates.

Abdul walks to school in his school uniform.

“I want the children in this school to achieve their potential – I want to see big titles and future leaders.”

Abdul walks to school in his school uniform.

Abdul's headteacher Kadie speaks of the high aspirations she has for the children in her school.

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