What started as an awareness raising and ethnographic styled walk through Sierra Leone, this site now details the encounters of a not so academic academic who spends more time occupying Wall Street and squats than a university...

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Educating Women and Girls in Sierra Leone.

So today was Africa day.  Earlier this week Yapo sent me a whole bunch of info on a possible funding stream through the UK government that he wants to apply for.  It's a stretch at best.  All of a sudden we are going to switch gears and apply for funding for a girls/women's education program.  We have till June 8th to get in a concept proposal.  Now believe me, I am ALL for this type of work.  It was something always in the back of my head while I was there.  Both education and gender issues are very important to me.  But as I was there talking to people and assessing the root causes of many issues I was hearing about, it all seemed to come back to income and capacity to sustain one's self and family first.

Education is free through sixth grade and then following that everyone must pay for middle school and high school tuition if they attend. Yet still there are many children that may have to drop out even of primary school, or work before and after, just to help their families stay afloat.  Seven and eight year olds working dawn till dusk and then trying to do homework with no electricity.  12 and 15 year old kids working before and after school to be able just to go to middle school and high school because their families can't afford it.   

It is a huge problem with roots that go far deeper than pedagogy, curriculum, or a teacher; its systemic and courses through the whole of society.  So no matter how important education is to me to, getting girls to school is far more complex.  Both the national and local economy has to provide economic opportunities allowing households enough to be able to have extra money to send kids to school with.  This is of course a simplified picture of the country's issues.  Woman are far more likely not to be in school as early pregnancy, stereotypes, cultural issues, and trafficking issues all play in in very different ways than with boys.  On the whole Sierra Leone is a long way away from sorting out this issue (nevermind us in two weeks) as getting these kids in school is SO much bigger than one or two development programs. 

Not only that, but our focus has been on hybrid styled non-profit revenue generating business models that give back to the community and local populace through jobs and public works.  Education is a change of gears and thinking for us.  One I'd like to do, but am not sure I can get my head around in two weeks that quickly.  (help is always greatly appreciated!).  As it is though, I've got time to think about it and plenty of time with a young impressionable little lady to brainstorm with! 

Of course on a side note we also have to be able to qualify for the funding stream.  That is where a good deal of my attention went today.  I know that on US government funded projects the principle organization should have three years of solid revenue, which we do not.  So if the UK is similar, we may not even be eligible unless we apply through another organization.  Which we then have to find and convince to do this in two weeks.  Sigh....  So yeah, what all this Africa work really needs is a concerted, undistracted effort at picking a project, designing it, and making it happen.  We are a ways away from there right now.  Like another entire person (yes, please join!).  But, no matter, I just want so badly to make something work.  It has been too long in the works.  A plan and funding is all we need.  It has to happen. 

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