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Report Summaries: Empowering Women

Project B121C: 'Education & Empowermentfor Rural Women in Sierra Leone'

Context: Powerful Information has been working with local partners in Sierra Leone since 2003 helping to provide functional literacy and non-formal basic education, especially in healthcare, for women and teenage girls who missed out on school because of war, poverty, sexual discrimination or early pregnancy. We have established learning circles in two regions, Bombali and Koinadugu, and work with a local partner in each region: Education for Women in Bombali and Grassroots Education & Development for Women in Koinadugu.

Scope: This report covers the second year of the third phase of this work (Aug 2010 to July 2011). It explains how the money we have raised for the year (£23,800) has been spent, what has been achieved, and how many people have benefitted. It also outlines our plans for the third year of our Education & Skills-Training Programme.

Beneficiaries: Through our partners, EFW and GEDEW we have supported 16 learning circles, a total of 867 farmers and petty traders (80% women).

Achievements: As a result of the programme: learners can recite the alphabet and count, write their and other’s names, and read basic text and interpret signs and notice boards. Learners have also acquired a basic understanding of a wide range of issues, from hygiene and nutrition to understanding their rights under the law as mothers, wives and citizens. Overall, during the year our partners took part in a number of radio programmes, networking events and training workshops which has helped to promote the programme more widely.

Updates on the last year

Course Content & Testing: This year we have developed and piloted a graduation exam paper which will help us and our partners better monitor the efficacy of the programme and give important reward and recognition to the learners. A new set of teaching units on disability issues (developed through another project with partners Vision for the Blind) has been trialled in the learning circles in Makeni. We aim to refine the units and roll them out in both regions in the next year of the programme.

Leadership Programme: We have initiated a pilot leadership programme for 12 of the most active women in Koinadugu, linked with some small initiatives to improve food security for selected learning circles.

Visits: This year our Project Officer, Kirsty Ternent, conducted the main monitoring visit in Nov/Dec; and our Director, Mike Flood, a second in Sept. And GEDEW Director, Fatmata Sesay, visited Powerful Information in Milton Keynes in May/June 2011.

Plans for the coming year

• During the coming year we aim to maintain the programme at its current level (16 circles / 700 women) and provide stationery and support for five additional circles (to encourage them to persevere with their studies); continue to improve the quality of the facilitation and reduce class sizes, and to collaborate more with other local and international NGOs, especially over monitoring. We also plan to implement the graduation process across all of the learning circles.

• We will continue to seek additional funds, and if successful, we will: support more learning circles; role out the Women’s Leadership Programme to more women; and promote more community rice banks (to improve food security). We also plan to continue to support our partners to improve their computer skills, assist them to get internet access, and to prepare funding proposals so that they can become self-sufficient in their work.

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