Ahkom School perimeter

[From David via WhatsApp]

Please show those who contributed towards our rehabilitation where their monies went.

We completed the gap in the wall, the metal railings and added razor wire on top. Almost completed the gate. The important thing is the lockers and missing metal panels are now in place so it can now be shut from the inside. Newly beaten blocks to elevate the perimeter a bit more.

Update from David Sandi at Ahkom

Sierra Leone 

As we draw towards the close of 2020 Sierra Leone is looking up in its fight against covid-19. The country was recently designated by the UN as one of only four in Africa considered low risk for covid-19 infection. Various africa centric government and health agencies are visiting to study the country’s strategy. Nonetheless baseline convid-19 requirements of handwashing, social distancing, face masks remain in place.

AHKOM School

West African Senior Secondary Schools Examinations- WASSCE

Like last year, the country’s wassce results this year were very bad. Due in large part to continued stricter invigilation and marking. Only around 4.5% of candidates country wide received university requirement ie 5 credits including English and maths. No candidate in kono received the requirement though significant numbers received 5 credits and more with only with passes in either English or math or fail in both subjects. Ahkom did relatively well, far better than over 70% of schools nationwide, but no where near last year. Additional factors were disruptions caused by corona and constraints imposed by transition to government assisted status which banned fees, yet left us still without  a single teacher on government payroll voucher. How do they expect us to pay our teachers, carry out rehabilitation work etc? Our finances are tight but, as always, God willsee us through. One commentator remarked Ahkom must’ve been living by magic! New intake of teachers on government pay roll voucher, we hear, will happen only in February 2021.

RightToRead (RTR)

Progress in this sector is encouraging. The planned expansion to six schools is ongoing. Teachers of Junior secondary English in these new schools had this to say during their recent RTR induction training at Ahkom: ” [ We see RTR as] the best thing for rapid improvement in English language in schools”

Scholarships

Thanks to your continued assistance our scholarship pupils continue to thrive. Five years ago Rita (seen above with her daughter) was on the verge of despair when her sole helper (an expat charity worker) relocated to his country in the wake of the ebola outbreak. She had 3 wassce credits and passes in other subjects. Impressed by her determination the expat had promised to pay for her resit which is successful,  could gain her entry to university. Unfortunately this never happened. 

Rita came to our attention 2 years ago and you, our friends,  sponsored her child. I involved Rita herself in the computer department to learn computing then sit to the National Technical Certificate NCTVA exams. This certificate is equivalent to the academic HTC –  higher teachers certificate. Although I can waive her ahkom tuition fees; I cannot waive the fees of the national awarding body – NCTVA, coming to around £500 for the three year  NTC course. Which is why we have not yet been able to register her for the NCTVA program.

What’s most important for us at Ahkom, however is that,  like many other sponsored students and their significant others, we’ve got Rita and her daughter – Francess, smiling again.

Xmas school Feeding 

It’s a yearly tradition to provide a meal for the children each Christmas. But this Christmas is unlike others. We hope God will make it possible to continue the tradition. 

AHKOM TEC VOC

The tec voc administrator at Ahkom has been appointed by the national technical vocational education and training body, TVET, as the district coordinator for all tec vocs in the Kono district. This, in recognition of the cardinal role Ahkom has played developing tec voc training in the Kono district.

SCHOOL FARM

If my estimate for the roof work was a wassce subject taken solely by myself and marked by Richard Bayfield, I’d not only have come with a big “F”, but been horse whipped out of Sierra Leone by Norm and Diana. 

I totally left out the cost of gables, beams, lintels, pillars. And the iron rods/cement/sand etc used for same. I even left out the cost of the required 200 boards for the 6 class rooms because all I had on my mind was zinc. I’m sure I’d have got it right if our builder hadn’t gone to his village in response to an emergency call. On his return I proudly told him the estimate I’d provided to you. His expression? He may well have seen a ghost. 

It transpires we require 19 bundles of zinc for the 6 classes, costing around £1100. I’ve already  paid for 10 bundles.The carpenter estimated 200  2″ x 7″ full length boards coming to around £750. I’ve secured 100 for now.

Happy to say that work is ongoing-  we’ve even started on the remaining 3 classrooms. I know all will be well.

On a final note: Merry Christmas all and a happy New Year: 

“Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits……………..who heals all your diseases….” 

Update from David Sandi

When I left for the uk on 5th September 2020 covid 19 cases in Sierra Leone had considerably decreased. In truth with 74 deaths and 2100 or so infections, many recovered, Sierra leone had not felt the impact of the pandemic as in Europe, Asia and the Americas. 

Despite this the government had taken a very proactive stance in fighting the pandemic from day one: learning institutions,  places of worship, clubs etc were closed. Commercial  vehicles had to reduce passenger numbers; contact tracing was introduced, quarantine and isolation were implemented. As best as it could, government tried to implement assistance for the vulnerable and for affected businesses. However people still went to market and could access social services albeit within the remits of covid 19 regulations. 

Great effort was made over mainstream and social media to educate the masses on the significance of facial masks, hand washing, social distancing , nutrition etc. When fear was at its peak country 10pm to 6am curfew as introduced,  later revised to 10pm to 5am. Currently,  the curfew has been lifted for 4 weeks.

Pupils at Ahkom schools and tec voc stayed at home during the closure. The ministry of Education put into place radio and TV learning programmes. Down the line national and international examinations classes only  were permitted to return to school inoder to sit to their respective exams.

The right to read language program in schools was also put on hold but thanks to the hard work of Richard and Norm, a private small grant was received which enabled extension of the program to six additional schools.

During this same period a just giving appeal was devised by LSL to raise foods for the school farm project. The target is 5,000 and 915 has already been raised. An additional contribution of 1,200 was donated toward roofing of the initial 6 class structure. Unfortunately, lacking the construction know how of  Richard Bayfield,  I forgot, in my estimate, to account for the cost of gables, and frontal pillars that will link with the entire roof structure.  But all will be well.

Schools reopened on the 5th October. Christmas is round the corner. We have a tradition of doing something for the children at Christmas and Easter. It is our hope we can do likewise this year.

On my return to Sierra Leone on the 23rd October you’d never believe there was a worldwide pandemic.  Although masks were still mandatory for entry into most institutions there was little sign of them on the streets. Indeed, questions are rife among the laity as to whether covid 19 ever  existed.

Today the quarantine homes are closed, the isolation units remain isolated. Schools and places of worship are open as are places of entertainment. However covid 19 core requirements stay in place.

1. PROGRESS ON 6 CLASSROOMS