6 responses to “Learning by the ‘midnight sun’ in Sierra Leone”

  1. Dr. Mubina Hassanali Kirmani

    As an educator and a former consultant with the World Bank working on education in Sub-Saharan Africa between 1990 and 1994, the above-mentioned project shows great potential to increase opportunities for learning. This small scale project can be replicated in Sierra Lone and other parts of Sub-Saharan Africa where up to 70% of the total population lives in rural communities, many of which do not have access have access to electricity. Increasing the number of hours of instruction, as demonstrated in the above project of night classes, using solar-charged lanterns has shown that academic performance has been improved.

    Correlation between increasing the number of hours and improvement in learning have also been demonstrated by other studies such as one conducted in South Africa by the Human Sciences Research Council in 2008. For this reason, international and local development agencies and governments partner with communities to implement energy based labor-saving technologies to offset the high opportunity costs felt by parents of sending their children to school. Electric well pumps, improved/fuel efficient stoves, planters and grinders, and rain harvesting systems amongst others have been used in countries like Benin, Burkina Faso, Madagascar, Mauritius and Nigeria, to help children attend school and increase the number of hours of instruction during daytime. In communities where daylight hours are not utilized for instruction, the solar-charged lanterns provide a viable option to extend hours of learning into the night.

    It was also clear from the project that for night classes to succeed parents had to be ensured of the safety of their children. While in the above case the vice principal’s house was used, for larger scale implementation a more accessible and centralized, well-lit and well-guarded venue would be more practical. If the scale of the project were to be increased, more reliable and inexpensive sources of light like the solar-charged lanterns should be made available to rural communities which lack access to electricity. Additionally, greater teacher participation would be required. Payment for teachers’ time in this regard should be seriously considered as an incentive for greater involvement of teachers. It is noteworthy to recognize the growing economic importance of completing secondary education in Sub-Saharan Africa. Initiatives like these help to illuminate the way into secondary education and empower young Africans to brighten their own economic future.

    Dr. Mubina Hassanali Kirmani – Professor of Education, Towson University, MD, USA

  2. Burhan Hassanali

    Having served as a teacher trainer and a headmaster in government and private institutions in Kenya and Dubai for over 35 years, I was greatly impressed by the efforts made by Muneer Kirmani, the local principal and the community in Kychom…I am aware of the similar challenges teachers faced in rural areas in Kenya where electricity, water and basic learning and teaching resources were either minimal or non-availabe…I remember one incident where I had gone to observe a trainee teacher in a rural school in Kilifi District in the Coast Province of Kenya..His first request before being assessed, ‘ Sir, could you please give me a glass of wated to drink so that I can project my voice as my throat is dry from no drinking water available within the next 5 miles of the school.’ The lesson was then conducted under a tree as a classroom and a tattered old chalk board was hung on a tree as the only L/T resource. The children sat on blocks of stone and used the bare ground in front of them to do written work… The situation such as this exists not only in Kenya but in many parts of Africa which deprives masses of children in rural areas to exploit their full intellectual potential..

    By using innovative methods like using the solar lamps in Kychom to conduct night classes, Muneer along with the community is setting a good example of how to enhance the education of less fortunate children of society in very difficult sitution and uplift their future living standards.

    My best wishes to Muneer, the Principal of the school, teachers, pupils, UNIDO and the Kychom community for combining forces to overcome one of the basic educational needs of Learning & Teaching vis-a-vis ‘LIGHT’ in difficult circumstances

  3. Salvatore Chester

    Keep it up ! Your personal efforts are highly appreciated over here. We are learning from such practical problems and practical solutions. Best wishes.

    http://www.facebook.com/groups/TEA.ethiopia/?fref=ts

  4. Jorge A Barrera

    My daughter is serving is Sierra Leone for 2 years, my conversation over the Internet revolves about her relation with students and the community. The common denominator is always: Poverty and Needs. But, with the efforts of Peace Corps. it is possible to make a lot of changes and give local people some hope, better instruction, better future, better life.

    I would like to know how can we help to this kind of projects, I am sure every little bit helps.

    Jorge A Barrera
    Fremont, CA USA

  5. Hugh King
  6. Terry Berkeley

    Incredible story, fantastic work, Muneer! It is gratifying to know the impact you as a teacher are having on the lives of children in just a small part of Sierra Leone!!!

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