visits the Industrial and Cooperative Preparatory School
in Freetown, Sierra Leone!
19th March 2010
Please click on a photo to
see a larger version
of the image
part of the Global Schools Partnership, which is funded
by the British Council, Mr Browning visited our partnership
school: the Industrial and Cooperative Preparatory Primary
School in the Wellington district of Freetown.
"My visit to the school in Sierra Leone was certainly
an eye-opener. On the first Monday morning, I had the surreal
experience of teaching in a mud-floored building with a
corrugated iron roof and no amenities.
school had no electricity, running water or toilets to speak
of. All hundred pupils were taught in one room, which was
sectioned off by chalk boards hanging from flimsy wooded
frames. There were few resources!
Unlike our English classrooms, with their computers, interactive
whiteboards, carpets, modern furnishings and heating, this
was the exact opposite. The children started writing in
their tatty exercise books, but the pages soon became dusty.
They sat on rickety benches and leaned on equally dubious
lessons were in English, which is the main language of the
country, although Krio is spoken by the majority of people.
Despite the poverty, all of the staff and pupils were so
friendly and prepared to share their meagre resources with
me. I had to adjust to being called 'Uncle Paul' as the
terms Auntie and Uncle were used for all the teachers!
is no playground to speak of but the children have an outside
area, which is dusty and stony. They enjoyed playing with
the footballs and rugby balls which I'd brought from Hull.
Indeed, everyone in the country seems obsessed with the
English Premier League and, especially Manchester United,
Arsenal and Chelsea! Watching Arsenal playing Hull City
on a television in a Sierra Leonian Bar was quite an experience!
I had the opportunity to see the neighbourhood, visit people's
houses and sample life from the local's perspective, rather
than as a tourist. The following group of photos show what
the locality of the school is like, including one of two
pupils in front of their home. This particular area has
an ocean frontage, where small scale fishing is still an
occupation for some people.
other tropical parts of the Earth, which are geared up for
tourism, Sierra Leone is definitely not.
following photo is one taken during the civil war that raged
from 1991 to 2000. During this time, there was incredible
brutality, with many children being forced into taking up
arms. Thankfully, following the mobilisation of 17,000 UN
personnel and the subsequent ending of the war, the country
has been on a more stable and safer footing since then.
In 2008 the country was deemed to be the least developed
country in the world. It clearly has a long way to go!
of polygamy have resulted in extended families with many
children. Only a few can attend school, so there are scores
of children who are on the streets or tips.
Rubbish lines all the streets; there are few metalled roads
with most being little more than rough tracks. For a capital
city there are few imposing buildings, apart from the Parliament,
Courts and High Commission.
also managed to see other facets of Sierra Leonian life,
including a traditional drumming group:
All this compounded to give us feelings of guilt and sadness
for the people. I had joined the headteachers from Pearson
and Collingwood primary schools and we all came away with
a sense of the enormity of the situation. Needless to say,
I was given a great farewell, with the children performing
were many positives, including the eagerness of the Sierra
Leonians to make links with us. There are many things we
hope to do in the coming months and years. What an experience!"