The lack of female teachers in Sierra Leone makes it hard for girls to aspire to a career of their own and limits girls’ participation in education. Only 27% of girls are still enrolled in school by secondary level. The Improving Girls’ Learning Outcomes project aims to break the cycle by improving learning outcomes for girls, particularly those in upper primary/ lower secondary classes, and creating new role models for girls.
The project brings together a range of partners, led by Plan UK, each tackling one of the factors which make it so difficult for girls to attend and succeed in school in Sierra Leone. The Open University is focusing on bringing more young women into the teaching profession, offering the current generation a chance at a career and inspiring the next generation.
The Open University is supporting 550 girls of senior secondary age and above in a scheme which prepares them for entry into teacher training, through a combination of self-supported study and experience in a primary school.
Preparation for formal teacher training takes two approaches:
- Learning Assistant placements in local primary schools, supported by advisors who are qualified teachers at the school. The OU has developed an interactive handbook to accompany these placements.
- Alongside their classroom experience, The Open University provides the young women with self-study materials in Maths and English, specifically adapted to support preparation for the entrance exam for Teacher Training Colleges. The project also employs tutors to meet weekly with the learning assistants, in small tutor groups.
The project is made possible by UK aid funding through the Girls Education Challenge Programme. Local partners include international and national NGOs and a teacher training college, through which the project reaches over 180 rural primary schools.