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Reply with quote  #1 
As an Educator, for over three decades experience, I have pondered the ways in which I can help to minimize illiteracy in my motherland, and the Third world, in general, for many years now. I have now come to the realization that the development of web-based learning tools is the best and most cost-effective way to do this in order to increase literacy, especially in rural communities - towns, and villages - in my/our Saro. The problem is; I am NOT adept at writing codes in the computer languages needed to develop such tools.

I mean, I can write or utilize needed codes to allow scientific instruments/experimental tools to "talk" to one another in my laboratories in order to collect, manipulate, and store data for analyses. But when it comes to creating web-based learning tools, I am personally at a loss.

I know there are web-based learning tools commercially available to serve some of these functions. But in the case of Saro, my homeland, this problem is very specialized, and difficult (not impossible) due to the diversity in place in this heterogeneous society. This is where I need help from the specialists in order to minimize the illiteracy rate in the nation.

Let us take language communication skills, as an example to illustrate this need. How can I/we create a web-based learning tool for the Mende villager who speaks no Krio to learn Krio, as the lingua franca in the land? so that he can communicate quite effectively with his Limba brother when he visits Freetong, per se? Same for other tribal affiliations. I am sure most of you folks see where I am going with this. Ditto for other avenues in this literacy enlightenment idea.

I need help from linguists, computer specialists, and other specialists in the fields needed to minimize illiteracy in a very cost-effective manner.

Any ideas? Please share.
Reply with quote  #2 
@Sengbe, what a great topic. I too have been thinking along similar lines and have come to the conclusion that the best approach may well be to piggyback on WhatsApp and use it as a learning content delivery platform. Phones are more ubiquitous in Salone than computers so more citizens will be able to access the content.

Having said that, a website would be useful for aggregating content before pushing it out to virtual classrooms via WhatsApp. Such websites are nowadays very easy to put together. You could literally have a basic site up and running in less than a week.

Imagine free WhatsApp groups set up in every town and village for learning Krio, English, maths, science, computer programming, drama, media studies etc. I would be very happy to collaborate on such a project.
Reply with quote  #3 
Thank you very much indeed DMK for your input in this thread. I hope and pray that it would NOT be the last one, so please continue to contribute.

BTW, what is your specialty, professionally?

Can you imagine sharing this idea with your uncle, my cousin, VP VBF, if he becomes Prezo du Saro in the future? The thought would be accelerated in its implementation ASAP within a very short period - reason I'd support his candidacy.

Are there any more forumites with excellent ideas as DMK's?

Please share! Do not hold back now.
Reply with quote  #4 
I specialise in Transplantation Immunology -
Reply with quote  #5 
Haybi! Haybi! Haybi! paper, DMK. Are you one of the authors? Remember haybi in krio = heavy in English.

So you are MD only, or MD-PhD, or PhD only? Wow! Me nar jus PhD only since '83.

I need you in this effort, Bra.
Reply with quote  #6 
No not one of the authors (DMK = my initials).

That paper nicely summaries my field. Ps. I am nit an MD.

I am sure there are many on this forum who will be happy to contribute content if you take the lead and give them a platform.
Reply with quote  #7 
"...I am sure there are many on this forum who will be happy to contribute content if you take the lead and give them a platform..." DMK

But DMK! I have already taken the lead, and given them a platform.

Do you want me to reiterate?

OK! as follows:

We want to develop web-based enhancement of the tools needed to allow our illiterate folks on the ground in Saro, and sub-Saharan Africa, in general, to become more literate in a very cost-effective manner in the shortest time possible. That is the main goal and objective in this thread.

Any takers, in addition to Bra DMK? Well come on-line and participate. Thanks in advance.
Reply with quote  #8 
"But DMK! I have already taken the lead, and given them a platform." - @Sengbe

Yes indeed. I should clarify, I meant a software platform. i.e. website plus any other tools required to make and distribute content.

A study published in the European Journal of Science in 2014 showed that a small group of female students taught through WhatsApp actually out performed the control group who had only face-to-face lessons -
Reply with quote  #9 
"...I meant a software platform. i.e. website plus any other tools required to make and distribute content..." DMK

Thanks for the clarification, Bra DMK.

In that case I would need the expertise of a software engineer, per se, to be of service in this endeavor.

Are there any software engineers on the Bintu? of Saro, or Nago descent, to lend a hand?

How about engineers who are well-versed in computereeze? Are there any here?

If not, then perhaps Bra DMK will oblige to undertake that chore for the benefit of all who are interested in this technological advancement in pedagogy for the benefit of our illiterate folks back home.

I will do some research in this vein after the end-of-semester rituals I am currently involved in are over by mid-May and get back to y'alls on the Bintu.
Reply with quote  #10 

How is EDUCATION "practiced" in Sierra Leone nowadays?

Perhaps a better query might involve the following question: how is the dissemination of educational activities perpetuated, and successful outcomes achieved, in the system nationally at the present time in Sierra Leone? Please forgive my ignorance pertinent to asking these questions posed above.

In my time, one attended primary school from Class One at the age of 5. I do not remember attending kindergarten because that level did not exist during my time. Primary School attendance was for 5 years until one attained the Standard 5-level. Then on to Form 1 at the secondary school level; progressing from Form 1 on to the Form 5 level, and then the G.C.E. O'levels were taken. Before that level however, one had to take an examination at the Form 3 level in order to determine whether one was going to pursue subjects in the sciences or in the arts.

The Form 6 (in either Arts or the Sciences) level was pursued after being successful at the acquisition of excellent grades in at least five subjects on taking the GCE O'level examination given by the W.A.E.C (West African Examination Council). The Lower 6 stage was then pursued, followed by the Upper 6 stage, and then leading one to take the G.C.E A'level examination given by the same WAEC. After that secondary stage, one then enrolled in a tertiary institution like FBC, Njala, or MMTC, or Technical Institute. Personally, I only took the O'level exams (with passes in 7 subjects) and left to attend college abroad. Thus the tertiary level of my education was not pursued in Saro, but abroad. The foregoing, is what I remember about how education was "practiced" in Saro during my time in educational adventurism. It is has been quite a while, so I hope my memory serves me well in the narration made above.

So why do I ask the question posed above?

The main reason is to have a basic understanding of the national educational process/trends followed nowadays so that I can help in offering constructive ways to ameliorate the literacy rate in the nation, based on my long-standing experiences as an Educator at the First-world level. When one considers that the level of illiteracy in Saro is around the 60 - 70% mark, I believe it is honorable for one to think in this way. Furthermore, in partial fulfillment of my desire to create an e-learning platform to be universally used in minimizing or totally eliminating illiteracy in Saro, and sub-Saharan Africa on the cheap; there lies my motivation.

Any help in this endeavor? 
Reply with quote  #11 
"Primary School attendance was for 5 years until one attained the Standard 5-level."  Sengbe.


Are you sure primary school attendance in your days was for 5 years and 7 years?  Wasn't there a standard 6?

When I went to school, the old system had been changed to Class 1, Class 2, Class 3, Class 4, Class 5, Class 6 and Class 7.

The present system in of education in Salone is called the 6-3-4-4 system.  This means 6 years of elementary school, 3 years of junior high school, 4 years of senior high school and 4 years of college/university.

At the end of 6 years of primary schooling, the student takes the National Primary School Examination (NPSE) which takes him/her to junior high school.  At the end of junior high school, he/she takes the Basic Education Certification Examination (BECE), which takes him/her to senior high school.  And at the end of the senior high school he/she takes the West African School Certificate Examination (WASCE).  A successful result at the WASCE takes him/her to college/university.  There is no longer a lower and upper 6 grades.  Gone. 
Spectator 007
Reply with quote  #12 
@Avayana: Please permit to chime in with what I remember followed by a question.

Elementary school back then was 7 year; Class 1-7. Class three was Standard 1 and Class 7 Standard 5. In Stabdard 7, the student took the common entrance to gain entry into secondary school.

Now my question. How many years does it take to complete junior high and senior high school? Is it 3 years each for a total of 6 years?
Reply with quote  #13 

Until about a couple of years ago it was 3 years for junior high school and 3 years for senior high school.  

The change came when it became evident that students were not performing well in the West African School Certificate Examinations.  So we now have 3 years of junior high school and 4 years of senior high school for a total of 7 years.

 In form, it is similar to the old system of Form 1 to Upper six?  But in substance, the students today are poorly educated.
Spectator 007
Reply with quote  #14 
@Avayama: Thanks for answering my question.

Well suppose a student completes senior high and passes the external WAEC exam wants to enter university in the UK. Would the student still need to do UK A levels or is the exam equivalent to A Levels? I remember that when we started doing WAEC A levels, students could still do London A levels...I believe at the British Council building.
Reply with quote  #15 
@Sengbe, Google must have been reading your mind because they recently opened up Google Classroom to those not in the formal education sector. Now anyone can setup a classroom and offer lessons. Watch the video. Its great!

@Avayama has described the current situation as I understand it. The question though is, is this the best system for us? I'm not involved in education full time (I deliver a few classes at the med school affiliated with my hospital here in London) so can only give my opinion rather than facts. In my opinion the current 6-3-4-4 system is too long. I understand why they introduced the additional year in senior secondary school but I think they are treating the symptoms rather than the disease. Education standards are low for a complex set of reasons. Forcing students to stay in school one extra year with all the additional costs that brings for parents is not the answer. In the same way, there is no need for the vast majority of university degrees in Sierra leone to be 4 years. Most can be safely reduced to 3 years without lowering standards, saving students a lot of expense.

@Specky, I well remember hot footing it over to the British Council to take a London O'Levels paper one afternoon having taken a WAEC paper in the morning. Fun times. Our old Alma Mater used to prepare us well.

Reply with quote  #16 
"In my opinion the current 6-3-4-4 system is too long"  DMK


I share your sentiments.  But the school system in Salone is no longer what it was especially in the 1960s and 1970s.  College students could barely speak or write in English now.  Everything has collapsed.  And it is no longer unusual to see a high school class of eighty students.

I was in Freetown last year and watched a Miss Sierra Leone beauty pageant on television.  The contestants were university students who found it very difficult to express themselves in English.  That is how bad things have gone.  In all the colleges, romantic dalliances between lecturers and female students often result in what they call sexually transmitted grades (STGs).  This is how many of these uneducated students graduate.

Educators are poorly paid if they are paid at all.  When a teacher is hired in a primary or secondary school, it takes a year for his name to be added to the voucher, which means that for a year, he would have to survive by small handouts from the principal.  And when he starts getting paid, he starting salary is usually below $ 120.00 a month.

In the colleges, lecturers supplement their paltry wages by selling poorly written pamphlets to their students.  Those that don't buy automatically get a reference at the end of the semester.  So those who are praising Ernest Koroma and the APC for a job well done need a thorough introspection.
My Contribution
Reply with quote  #17

Reply with quote  #18 
Avayama you started off very well but ended up screwing big time. Your attempt to indict EBK for the collapse of the academia in Salone smacks of malice, parochialism, dishonesty and myopia. Are you trying to say the education system was better off under the failed SLPP? It is an emphatic N-O! if you are really honest first to your conscience.

The decline in the education system in Salone started when Hindolo et al. introduced active and destructive student politics at FBC. Most of us know the aftermath of the NO-SCHOOL-NO-COLLEGE demonstration-cum-revolution which was one of the million clandestine ways devised by the SLPP to destabilize Salone in order to return to power. Gullible and misinformed teachers and students were unfortunately victimised or harassed. People were led to believe that the government was not doing enough even though there were healthily functioning mechanisms in place at that time. There were covert activities geared towards sabotaging government institutions without taking the implications into consideration. The frontrunners of that NO-SCHOOL-NO-COLLEGE covert revolution were so naive and visionless that they sent a lot of students to their early graves when they attempted to transform a demonstration into a coup d'├ętat. If Shaki was smart enough to have kicked out  southesterners who were the covert agents of the SLPP at that time from all institutions, Salone would not have been in such mess. 

Last year I was in Salone when a second year student of a Freetown college requested my help in an assignment. After everything was done I asked him to include a reference list at the end and much to my surprise he did not have the faintest idea what I was up to. I explained to him why he should do that and gave him a short lecture on plagiarism. After my labour of love, what the boy said shocked me! He said no teacher has ever taught them what I suggested and that all he needed to do was take the assignment to the teacher accompanied by 100000 leones. Without the money no deal. Even if he had written rubbish he would have still gotten a pass with the money dictating the teacher's compliance. Just an example of how horrible our educational system has become of late.

  The decay did not start overnight and blaming it on current governments will be a travesty.
Reply with quote  #19 

I hope we do not transform this very important debate into a discussion on Ernest Koroma and his government.  I mentioned EBK's name at the end of my earlier posting because he has been president of Sierra Leone for the last nine years.  

Governance is a continuous process and when you become president you automatically inherit and own your country's problems.  EBK has had nine years to turn things around in Sierra Leone.  He hasn't.  In fact the economy has really worsened under his watch.  Therefore, EBK and the APC are very much a part of Sierra Leone's problems.
Reply with quote  #20 
Many thanks to the folks who have made a contribution in this thread. I hope they continue with their participation until the powers that be on the ground see it fit to implement ideas in the educational system/sector that would improve and enhance the national literacy rate amongst our folks oberyanda.

We are also thankful to the proprietors/proprietresses of the Bintu platform that allows us to brainstorm on such national issues like education in such a way as to bring our diverse global experiences in a cohesive manner on such a forum as this one.

I have learned quite a bit perusing the contents of this thread. Hopefully, the folks directly responsible for the nation's educational sector can coalesce our experiences delineated in these discussions for the national good by minimizing or eliminating gross illiteracy amongst our folks in the nation in a very cost-effective manner.

The didacticism to be extracted from these discussions on the Bintu is to allow and enable the appropriate officials to formulate ideas and policies geared toward national development while in office as governors. In my estimation, it is the educational horse that pulls the national development cart. It is easier to develop a nation into modernity when the literacy rate supersedes the illiteracy one. This is the main reason China and the Tiger nations are vastly more developed than our continent. And if we can lend a hand from afar, that is all good (as my kids would say).

Creating technology-based learning environments through ICTs (Information and Communication Technologies), and distance-learning centers, are the most cost-effective ways to increase the literacy rate amongst our national population. Thus, the main goal of this thread is to engage interested forumites in the process of brainstorming, planning, collaborating, on issues of national interests so that their involvement would pave the way for the policy-makers to ease their ways into formulating these policies with the attendant input of very experienced diasporans, with no fees attached to sharing these experiences. It would make the task easier in putting the policies together for the national benefit. I believe the participants in this thread are motivated by this goal.

Thanks again folks for participating in this positive way. We will leave that ugly Kamara Borbor (not KL) to wallow in his spiteful tribalism since our intended goal is NOT political in the partisan, or regional sense.
Reply with quote  #21 
" is the educational horse that pulls the national development cart." - @Sengbe

I love this statement!
Reply with quote  #22 
So true, DMK.

Just like the "theoretical horse" pulls the "experimental cart" in the sciences.

How is the TI "business"/profession?

A very literate population leads to a very developed nation. So our priorities in Africa, especially sub-Saharan Africa, should be, in the following order: Education, Agriculture, Health & Sanitation, and the rest. Please revise the order as you deem fit, and fill in the blanks.

Thanks again, for participating in the discourse.
Reply with quote  #23 

Thanks for the reference relative to the Google Classroom.

I will inquire into it's use for lessons in Chemistry, and Physics, which may be of use to secondary school age students. But how about our illiterate brothers and sisters; mothers and fathers, or adults in general, who NEVER attended school - the illiterate ones. These are the categories of folks I would like for this technology-based learning environments to help bring up to par in their adult education.

In this regard, the ICT sector, and workforce must be developed at first, if it does not exist at the present time. If it exists now, it must be allowed to grow very rapidly in order to serve the purpose in the national population. I am sure there are global agencies that would help in developing this sector very broadly at the national level: UNESCO comes to mind; George Soros, Bill & Melinda Gates come to mind; the Kuwait Fund, etc., etc. come to mind.

We must first develop a plan in collaboration with very established professionals globally through brainstorming. And since there are so many different languages spoken and used in most African countries, we must endeavor to narrow them by enabling Africans to be conversant with the languages that are most amenable to be "lingua francas" in that national setting. For instance, in Saro, it could be Krio and English, per se. This will serve to educate everyone in the national population to communicate "universally" with every other national. I am sure you folks see where I am going with this.

In other words, the priority in this case is to give opportunities to the most illiterate sector in the population to uplift themselves so that they can communicate with any of their compatriots in the nation.

Effective communication skills is the starting-point I envision here in an ADULT EDUCATION environment / setting for those folks who have NEVER seen a formal classroom.
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