News

Community learning centres enabling girls to continue their education

12 September 2019
Kulako Marah, outside Bambukoro Community Learning Centre, @UNFPA/2019/Ellen Donnelly

KOINADUGU, Sierra Leone,  August 2019 - “As a young mother, I want to be a good role model for young people in my community” said Kulako Marah after attending the Bambukoro community learning centre in Koinadugu District.

Kulako, aged 19 and the mother of a five year-old, is enrolled at the community learning centre in Bambukoro village along with sixty other girls. The Bambukoro community learning centre is one of forty centres across 13 districts serving adolescent girls aged 13-19, through the UNFPA supported Girls Access to Education and Services project (GATES) funded by Irish Aid. UNFPA works in partnership with the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), Ministry of Health and Sanitation and Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs, to provide education, health and well-being services for out-of-school adolescent girls attending the community learning centres.

Adolescent pregnancy

At an early age, Kulako lost both of her parents and initially lived with her grandmother in Bambukoro village. However, when her grandmother struggled to raise her, Kulako went to live with her aunt in Koinadugu District. At the age of fourteen, Kulako entered into a relationship with a man, who financially supported her education. When Kulako fell pregnant, she was rejected by her boyfriend, and with the challenges so being a single parent, Kulako dropped out of school and was forced to return to live with her grandmother in Bambukoro village.

Community learning centres aiding continued education

Whilst living in the village, Kulako started growing fruits and vegetables and selling them at the local market to support herself and her child. It was at this time that Kulako heard about the local community learning centre from Mr. Malikie Kamara, the centre coordinator who encouraged her to join other adolescent girls attending the centre. “The centre helps to build the capacity of adolescent mothers, providing them with the opportunities of either going back to school, or being confident enough to be successfully self-employed,” said Mr Kamara.

At the centres, adolescent girls are encouraged to continue with their education, attend literacy classes, and learn about sexual and reproductive health and rights, including life skills. According to Mrs. Olive Musa, Director of Non-Formal Education at the MBSSE, the girls also learn about the importance of avoiding early marriage, early pregnancies and practicing safe sex.

The Bambukoro community learning centre has a large catchment area and attracts girls of all ages from remote areas. Mrs. Musa said that the aim is to have 50 out-of-school girls aged 13-19 enrolled at each centre. “We have witnessed how learning materials provided to the out-of-school girls by the MBSSE and UNFPA have resulted in a large number of girls utilizing the centres,” said Mrs. Musa.

The importance of comprehensive sexuality education

“If I had been taught about family planning at school when I was younger, it would have changed my life,” said Kulako. “I would not have become pregnant and dropped out of school. The GATES Project at the centre has made me want to tell my friends that, if they are ambitious, they can go back to school and get educated.”

 

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For more information, please contact:

Angelique Reid, UNFPA Sierra Leone, Communications Specialist

Tel: +232 78340044 - Email: areid@unfpa.org