PSL YEAR 1 EVALUATION SHOWS SUBSTANTIAL LEARNING GAINS ARE BOTH POSSIBLE AND AFFORDABLE FOR LIBERIA - STREET CHILD PERSPECTIVE

Street Child welcomes the release of today's evaluation by the Center for Global Development (CGD) and Innovations for Poverty Action (IPA) of the first year of the Partnership Schools for Liberia (PSL) program. PSL has been a topic that has generated much commentary and speculation, informed and misinformed, in the past 18 months. This report brings welcome hard facts to the table.

Above all, Street Child is delighted to be classified as one of three operators to have achieved 'statistically significant' learning gains in year one - in particular as our model is predicated on investments and longer-term changes, and so we do not expect the real benefits to emerge until year three.

The report also highlights various challenges. It is right to do so. In a country like Liberia, whose education system has been battered by years of conflict and Ebola, changing the status quo is not easy. The report was designed to provide candid feedback to both operators and the Ministry of Education, and much of that feedback is already being addressed in the second year of the program. Street Child has learned a lot in year one. Year two will be even better.

One of the main issues the report highlights is the long-term affordability and comparative value of the learning gains. While all providers are working towards financial sustainability, Street Child spent only $60 per student (on top of the Ministry of Education budget of $50 per student). Street Child is delighted in year 1 to lead the argument for the case that significant learning gains can be attained at an affordable price.

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TRAINING TEACHERS IN NIGERIA IN EDUCATION IN EMERGENCIES

In North-East Nigeria, millions of children and families have been forced to flee their homes following conflict, leaving thousands of children out of schoolIn partnership with Nigeria's Gender, Equality, Peace and Development Centre, Street Child is establishing one of several temporary learning centers in Maiduguri, to give 300 children the chance to go to school.

As part of the program, 10 facilitators from nearby communities are training in Education in Emergencies so they are ready to provide basic education and life skills to cope with emergencies. Peer clubs within the school will provide psycho-social support to girls and boys. Street Child will also be providing educational support to 100 households to ensure that these families can afford to send their children to school long-term.

MEET THE TEACHERS  

Japhet was born in Maiduguri and is currently taking part in the Education in Emergencies training workshop.

'Due to the insurgency some children lost their parents and are displaced. Street Child is the best opportunity to take them back to school and get to the right path. I feel passion in helping the less privileged in gaining more knowledge. They will help their families and their society. I would like to be a lecturer in the future.'

22-year-old Stella is also from Maiduguri and graduated from the Maiduguri College of Education.

'I have not had the opportunity to gain any practical experience of teaching since I graduated last year, which was a source of worry for me because I was trained to be a teacher. I believe the Street Child teacher training program will open me to new knowledge, thinking, teaching approaches and perspectives, especially as it has to do with the children in conflict situation here in Maiduguri. My responsibility is not only to contribute to helping the children acquire basic literacy and numeracy, but also to support them in overcoming the emotional and traumatic situation facing them as a result of the crisis. I want to give a listening ear to them when they want to speak, and be there for them at all times.'

STREET CHILD'S FIRST PROJECT LAUNCHES IN NIGERIA

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On Saturday 18 February 2017 Nigeria officially became the fourth country Street Child works in, when we launched our first project in the New Kuchingoro Displaced Persons Camp, on the edge of Nigeria's capital Abuja. 

In November, we launched a fundraising campaign in response to conflict in the North East of the country, which has left three million children unable to go to school. We're now on the ground and taking action to help families whose lives have been torn apart by conflict. This project in Abuja is just the first step of our planned work in the country. 

This specific project will work with families who have been displaced by the conflict, which has forced 2.7 million people to flee their homes since 2011. It is providing 150 children with sustainable education support, so that they can return to school and remain in education. We are also giving 30 mothers vocational training and business support so that they can rebuild their lives and provide for their children long term. 

Right now, we are planning further projects in Nigeria, partnering with local organizations to provide children with the safe education spaces that they deserve. Your support is making it possible for us to give hope to a generation of children. Thank you. 

THE STORY OF SERAH PETER: CHANGING LIVES IN CONFLICT-IMPACTED NIGERIA

Serah is just one of 30 mothers who received a business grant from Street Child in Nigeria, after fleeing their homes from conflict in the North East of the country. Serah lives in the New Kuchingoro IDP camp with her four children; one of them is a Sickle Cell Anemia patient.

According to Serah, her daughter’s health condition has been a great concern to them as she is often ill and requires a blood transfusion every two months. She showed Street Child her hospital debt - $230. Serah lost her source of income because of the conflict, but is desperate to clear the debt.

Thanks to Street Child, Serah received a business grant and training which enabled her to start a bead-making business within the camp. Her business is going well and she has told us how in just two week of receiving the grant she has sold $50 worth of beads and is able to start paying the hospital bill. She has paid $32 off the bill and re-invested $15 into her business.

Serah added that if the sales continue like this, in a short while she will have cleared the hospital debt and still have enough to re-invest into her business, save, provide for the family and manage the health of her sick daughter.

She concluded by thanking Street Child for their support and for empowering her to set up a sustainable business so she can continue to care for her family.

Learn more about our work in Nigeria. 

STREET CHILD HELPS GIRLS GO BACK TO SCHOOL

“They help you to help yourself”

All the chairs in the classrooms are stacked up, and the children have gone home. The grounds in front of the school are empty, and the playground next door is quiet. But one group of girls is still in the classroom, busily studying into the afternoon.

These girls are all 17 and 18 year olds who have recently gone back to school after being out of school for a long time. They are working with a teacher to catch up on the lessons they have missed. This will allow them to go back into Grade Six instead of a lower class, where they might feel more self-conscious of their age, and therefore more likely to drop out again.

“I had to drop out of school because my Ma passed away and there was no money to send me,” said Ellie, 18. “Now, I don’t know how old the other children in my class are, but I don’t mind. I want to be a medical doctor one day.”

Thanks to our Girls Speak Out appeal, Street Child was able to provide grants for school materials, ID cards and uniforms for the girls. Despite all government schools in Liberia being nominally free of charge, these additional costs can be more than some families can afford.

If the older girls feel uncomfortable in class, or that they have missed too much, there is a danger that girls may stop going altogether. Over 73% of all Liberian children drop out between elementary and junior high school. That’s why Street Child catch-up classes are so important. With the help of teachers and the Street Child social workers, the girls in this rural school can continue moving up the grade system and graduate as soon as possible – a goal to which they all aspire.

Find out about the Girls Speak Out campaign.

SUPPORTING GRANDMOTHERS TO PROVIDE A BETTER FUTURE FOR THEIR GRANDCHILDREN

Memuna Jabbie is 65 years old and lives in Makeni, Sierra Leone with her 12 grandchildren. Memuna lost four of her five children to Ebola and her surviving daughter is too ill to look after her children, leaving Memuna to adopt and raise her 12 grandchildren. The youngest is just two years old. 

Memuna’s family became part of the Street Child program when her 10-year-old grandson Ibrahim was seen playing on the street during school hours by one of the Street Child team. 

Since then, Street Child has supported the family with business grants and training so that they can afford for the children to go to school and receive an education. 

In early 2016, Ibrahim returned to the Young Muslim School in Makeni. Now, all Memuna’s school-age grandchildren are in education.

Following the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone and Liberia, grandparent-headed households became more and more common. Street Child estimates that more than 20,000 children were orphaned during Ebola and many elderly grandparents are now facing the cost of educating, feeding, and clothing their grandchildren.

Ramatu and her husband Alusine are both in their 70s and with Street Child’s support they have set up a family business to provide for their 18 grandchildren, the youngest of whom is not yet walking. 

While Ebola is no longer making headlines, the legacy of the disease is all too real.

Street Child's business scheme helps grandparents to set up sustainable businesses so they can send their grandchildren to school and give them a quality education. 

Just $30 a month can provide a grandmother with a business grant and training to ensure she can send her grandchildren to school. Will you partner with us to give Ebola’s orphans a brighter future? 

POST-EBOLA LIBERIA: A NEW CHAPTER FOR EDUCATION

Hawa is finally back at school. Her uniform is clean and her hair neatly braided. The excitement of the new term is felt far and wide as laughter, giggles and singing fills the school campus, when classes break for recess. “I’m so happy to be back in school and to see my friends,” she says with a big grin.

Just one year ago schools re-opened after being closed during the Ebola epidemic.

Since then, as Liberia’s recovery process continues, the challenge of getting students and teachers back into the classroom have been great. The increased numbers of teenage mothers, Ebola-orphans and street-connected children are just some examples of young boys and girls who are struggling to get an education as a result of the epidemic. Liberia recently topped UNICEF’s ranking of the 10 worst countries in the world for access to elementary school, and it remains clear that many children will not be going back to school this week.

Hawa, who is 13 years old, lost both of her parents to Ebola and is now living with her auntie and 4 siblings. She explains how her aunt struggles to provide for the family and that many times she and her siblings go without eating for a whole day. “It’s hard to focus in class when I haven’t eaten anything,” she says. “My auntie often can’t afford to pay for all the extra costs of me going to school such as buying notebooks and pencils.”  

Yet access to education is only part of the problem; quality of education also has a huge impact. Just 63% of 15 -24 years old boys are literate and, even more shockingly, just 37% of girls. Perhaps most overwhelming is that in 2013, all 25,000 applicants for the University of Liberia failed the entrance exam demonstrating the failures of the Liberian education system.

Street Child’s recent Liberian Consultation on Adolescent Girls Education (LCAGE) revealed that girls are particularly vulnerable in accessing and learning in school. Less than half of all girls interviewed in grade 4 could read and write and in fact grade 4 turned out to be the grade when most girls dropped out of school. This year Hawa is starting 4th grade and unfortunately the odds of her obtaining a quality education are not in her favor.    

However, Hawa’s school was recently selected as one of the 93 Partnership Schools for Liberia, which the Ministry of Education is running together with 8 partner organizations including Street Child. Her school is now included in a network of 12 Street Child Flagship Academies. 

For Hawa, among other advantages, this means no extra fees, a provision of basic learning materials and more qualified teachers in the classroom every day.

In pursuit of improved teaching and learning in Liberian schools, the partnership between the Government and Street Child is taking an innovative approach to tackling some of the challenges of the education system.

Minister Werner, the Liberian Minister for Education explained: “For the first time in many years we have been able to add new teachers to these schools.”

More teachers per school are being recruited and trained to meet the needs of large classroom sizes, new ways of interpreting and implementing the national curriculum are being introduced, and more support and supervision are being introduced for each school.

During Ebola, Street Child worked tirelessly alongside many other organizations and government branches to help educate people about the disease and to support vulnerable children who were impacted by the crisis. It also supported 2,200 people with the provision of relief packs and helped 1,500 Ebola-impacted children back to school once schools re-opened.

“There are many lessons to learn from the times of Ebola relating to the education system,” says Ahmed Dukuly, Head of Academic Development for Street Child's Flagship Academies. “Partnership, innovative approaches, and quick responses to immediate challenges were central during the Ebola response and should be key in Liberia’s recovery process and beyond. This applies to education as well!

“Additionally there is more need for research and evidence, which is what Partnership Schools for Liberia is all about.” says Mr. Dukuly.  Not only are partners such as Street Child using research and evidence-based approaches to plan their interventions, but the entire program is part of a vigorous external evaluation. The hope is that such evidence can support the program to grow and help further innovation within the education sector.   

The Flagship Academy model is based on a low-cost, sustainable, and creative approach to tackling educational challenges in both rural and urban settings alike. “If our mission is to provide better opportunities for Liberian children through education, we need to make sure that every dollar spent benefits the Liberian children both today and tomorrow. Innovative approaches do not have to be expensive, but rather it is about searching for local solutions and making sure things change now,” says Street Child's Liberia Country Director John Kerkula Benda.

The challenges for education in the year to come are many for Hawa and all the other Liberian elementary school children. Yet the determination of the Ministry of Education and the joint efforts of the Partnership Schools for Liberia program in the post-Ebola context form part of a new and exciting chapter in educating Liberia’s children today and tomorrow.  

Furthermore, Street Child’s recent ‘Girls Speak Out appeal will help 20,000 children like Hawa in Sierra Leone and Liberia to access a quality education, thanks to matched funding from the UK Government's Department of International Development, which doubled all donations to the appeal.

- Felicia Dahlquist, Street Child Program Manager for Liberia

'Eskimo' braves tropical heat to win 5th Sierra Leone Marathon

- Mustafa ‘Eskimo’ Kamara crowned 2016 Sierra Leone Marathon Champion

- More than 600 runners compete in the world’s most ‘worthwhile’* marathon

 29th May 2016: 118 British and international runners traveled to Sierra Leone to join over 500 Sierra Leonean competitors in the 5th Street Child Sierra Leone Marathon.

Laid out over four distances – 5k, 10k, half and full marathon – the runners wove their way through the parched streets of Makeni in the north of the country. Braving hot and humid conditions, the surrounding communities were out in force to provide boisterous support for competitors from more than 15 countries worldwide, including those as far afield as Finland, Australia, China and Chile. 

Mustafa 'Eskimo' Kamara as he crosses the finish line as the winner of the 2016 Sierra Leone Marathon

But it was the Sierra Leonean nationals who swept the field, winning all four categories of the male and female competitions. Mustafa ‘Eskimo’ Kamara, 21, was the first full marathon runner across the finish line to take this year’s title.

“This is my first time winning here at the Sierra Leone Marathon at this distance.” Kamara said. “I’ve only competed in one marathon event before in Nigeria so it feels good to be the winner. I felt comfortable across all of the course and I’m so glad to be here now as the champion.

“This event is for children in our country so that makes it special for us and for me as the winner: children who are in the streets, children who need help getting into school, children who have very little – knowing they will be supported by this event, I am glad to have taken on those 26 miles for that.”  

The winner of the female marathon was Isatu Turay18, from Freetown.

“I’ve just finished so I’ll just say I feel okay!” said Turay not long after powering across the finish. “I did my first marathon here in 2015 and I came second. I’ve trained so hard for these conditions and I trained to win this year; and now I’ve done it.

“Since the marathon is helping support girls into school, girls who maybe don’t have a family or are struggling to go to school, to compete here and win is very special for me. Education is so important for girls in our country. If you are educated, people will be careful with you, they won’t be foolish with you. Girls need that help.” 

Street Child would like to say a massive thank you and a heartfelt congratulations to everyone who competed in this year's marathon. To those who have taken on this challenge and raised money to support the children, families, and communities that you visited ahead of the race, we are incredibly grateful for all that you've done - and continue to do - to support our work. We look forward to seeing you soon... and to welcoming you back next year!

Kadiatu's story

KADIATU, 15 YEARS OLD

I lost my father and sister to Ebola when I was in the first year of high school and they were the ones looking after me. My mother is a tailor by trade but she can’t get any work so she sells in the market. I’m not able to go to school because since my father and sister died I have to help my mother sell to earn some money.

For any girl that has some help from their parents, education is a great thing, as long as they want to learn. Let us go to school. It will make a better future for we girls and for our country.

People here in the community believe that learning is important to help you get by in future. But, even then, some of us here can’t afford it and don’t get that support to make sure we stay in school. So some girls can’t go. And if I had the power to change things, I would sit girls down and encourage them to go to school. Whatever they want to learn: school or skills training, like catering, I would help them to get it. Let them not end up like me, unsupported and out of school. 

Mary's story

MARY, 16 YEARS OLD

It’s been about a year since I was last in school. Now I sell water in the market to help get a little money for me and my family.

I was going to school before but my mother died. My father is in the village and he doesn’t support my schooling. Now I’m being looked after by my granny but she doesn’t support me in school either. Now I go out and sell in the market here just to have a little money. Maybe I can earn a little for myself to buy small things like shoes or clothes.

Education is so good for girls. If I was able to get educated, I could do better things and become a better person. I want to go to school but I just don’t have the chance.

When I’m out of school I feel bad. I see my friends going to school and that hurts because I can’t go with them. I see them going out to learn and I just sit here and sell.

If parents can’t look after their child and help them be in school then girls especially will suffer. They’re more at risk from men and might even get pregnant. And if they’re not educated, their own children will suffer because they’ll be no one to look after them properly. They should listen to girls and give them what they need to stay in school – fees, transport, something for lunch and most of all encouragement.

If a girl’s family isn’t able to send them to school, if I had the power, I wish I could pay for them myself. I’d give them advice and encourage them to stay there because that’s so important.