Daniel: “I want to be a teacher!”
Standing strong, Daniel is looking at his classmates, all eyes are on him.
13 years old Daniel went back to school after an injury made him loose his foot and leg. | © HI
His shy smile does not hide his confidence. Daniel is ready to answer all questions his teacher is about to ask. Yet, not so long ago, going to school was a far-off dream for Daniel. Aged 13, Daniel comes from Manjamadu village in Kono District, in the Eastern Province of Sierra Leone.
One day, as he was playing football, his right foot hit a stump. The injury on the bottom of his foot worsened until Daniel lost both his foot and leg. The young boy stopped going to school, since his dad, a local tailor and miner, could no longer pay for his school fees. The family had already endured difficult times, with three of Daniel’s siblings passing away during the Ebola epidemic.
In recent years, the Ebola virus outbreak revealed several issues in Sierra Leone.
One of these was the lack of quality education for all children, including children with disabilities. Kono, where Daniel lives, was identified as one of the most neglected districts regarding support for education, especially in its remote parts. There, available teachers are mostly untrained and unqualified. Because of very little awareness about inclusive education in the communities, children with disabilities are often left out. School buildings are not accessible; there are no teaching and learning materials for children with learning difficulties, including those with disabilities.
Thanks to community outreach and awareness raising sessions, HI teams could meet Daniel. As part of the Educate A Child project, he was approached by Mambu, rehabilitation worker, who strongly encouraged Daniel’s enrollment in school.
“Each time I see children I have identified and supported that are now going to school, I feel proud that I have been given the opportunity to contribute to changing the lives of vulnerable children in my community” , Mambu says.
Today, Daniel attends the Kono District Education Committee School, he’s in class 5. He received school material, including a uniform. There has been a lot of progress in his attendance and performance -the teachers encourage him and he is building up his confidence. This year, he will participate to his school’s annual sports meetup. “In the future, I want to become a teacher”, Daniel says with a big smile.
HI activities in Sierra Leone
Humanity & Inclusion carries out community outreach and awareness raising sessions as part of the Educate a Child project. This project involves local actors and communities in the implementation of an inclusive education model for all children including vulnerable girls, children with disabilities, children with specific education needs, out of school children and Ebola-affected children.
The organisation also improves the accessibility of school buildings through the installation of wheelchair ramps, the lowering of blackboards, whitewashing walls, adapting school furniture etc. HI strengthens the capacity of teachers through pre-service and inservice training on inclusive education, follow-up in schools and specialized teacher trainings such sign language and braille; and it provides adapted learning and teaching materials to schools (transcription tools for instance).