Pathways to a new school in South Sierra Leone

The growing number of children attending the Islamic Call Society Primary School in Blama Massaquoi Community, Pujehun District has put pressure on space and school learning materials. The structure is also deemed unsafe as a place for nearly 300 pupils to learn.

The school authorities and the local community did come together to consider how to improve the state of the school, but steps were not taken until they met SABI through the Restless Development Youth Accountability Volunteers.

A new beginning

To gain a clear idea of the challenges the Youth Accountability Volunteers worked with the school authorities and the community, using a citizen’s perception survey, to generate clear evidence about the lack of safety at the school.

The Youth Accountability Volunteers ran a problem priority matrix supporting the community to have deeper conversations about their needs and prioritise them. SABI guided the process by ensuring everyone was involved and introduced the Accountable Governance Pathways to Change. This pathway served as a reference document and supported the community to put their problems into an action plan, knowing which influential stakeholder to connect to which problem.

They then formed a school building committee including; Eric Massaquoi (youth leader), Rodney Lahai Kamara (Ward Development Committee Secretary), and Theresa Pyne (Women’s leader and head teacher), to act, using the action plan as a guide to improving the current state of the school.

At district level, SABI facilitated a meeting with the Deputy Director of Education (DD) for Pujehun District, Mr Ibrahim Yaya Fofanah, where the building committee presented their action plan and talked through the challenges the pupils face in the school. The Restless Development Field Officer – Belinda Cobba, explained the SABI interactive processes that inspired the development of the action plan.

The timing was fortuitous, as the Deputy Director explained, Save the Children had recently approached the Ministry of Education about available funds for the construction of schools in the district. With the evidence and action plan provided by the committee, he could now recommend Blama Massaquoi Community for such a project.

These are the kind of engagements that help compliment our work. It is easy now to direct support to Blama Massaquoi Community because half of the work is done. Bravo to the community and thanks to SABI for bringing the community together to make a difference in the interest of our children.

Deputy Director of Education (DD) for Pujehun District, Mr Ibrahim Yaya Fofanah.

Save the Children acted upon the Deputy Director’s request and approved the construction of a six-classroom building, with wider facilities, including disable friendly access.

The Blama Massaquoi Community came together to provide local building materials while Save the Children provided the funds and technical support to construct the building.

The school structure was completed and opened in October 2020 for the 292 pupils (148 girls and 144 boys) who will benefit at the start of the academic year.

A Six Classroom School Building Constructed in Blama Massaquoi Community.

It is thrilling to think that at last our pupils come back to a school with upgraded facilities which will provide a conducive learning environment for them. We are grateful to SABI, RADA and Restless Development for giving us the awareness and governance pathways that produced this result

– Theresa Pyne, Head Teacher of ICS primary school.

Next steps

The Blama Massaquoi Community are now coming together to use the same SABI processes to carry out other actions on health challenges in their community, identified in their action plan.

Save the Children has also recognized the importance of the innovations within the SABI programme and moving forward will provide direct funds to it.