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With my Scholarship I’m empowered

Sia Swankay, Senior Secondary School Pupil-Kono District

Girl Retention in School.

Retention of girls within the education system in most rural areas is normally an immense challenge. Girls often face the challenge of being forced into early marriage or they encounter teenage pregnancy, or their parents can’t afford their school fees and their regular upkeep anymore, especially before the free education policy was enacted by the new government.

I was in Class 6 when ActionAid took my name, so when I passed my national primary school exams with 301 score, I qualified for the scholarship” Sia happily informs 

With these issues in the communities ActionAid works, ActionAid set upon itself to empower girls by identifying the best 25 girls in each school and then supported them through their junior and secondary education. Sia Swankay, 19 a Senior Secondary School pupil is one of the 25 girls who benefited from the scholarship “I was in Class 6 when ActionAid took my name, so when I passed my national primary school exams with 301 score, I qualified for the scholarship” Sia happily informs.

When she made it to secondary school, her father was faced with the huge challenge “me and my two brothers made it for junior secondary school, so my father was faced with a though choice to support the 3 of us” Sia informs. As parents will favour boys having the upper hand than girls, Sia would have left out “I thank God I made it with flying colours and ActionAid Came to my rescue” Sia again. Sia together with 25 pupils were then given the scholarship. “Apart from the scholarship, ActionAid provide us with school uniform, bags, pen etc for all of us” Sia informs.

As this was an intervention to follow these 25 pupils especially the girls, to see how they can prove their mettle in the field of academia, ActionAid set a criterion for regaining the scholarship” you will have to be among the first 5 in your class and always maintain a grade point of above 60%, if not you will fall out of the scholarship Programme, so I decided to study hard to maintain my scholarship, I also try to maintain my lead in the class” Sia Informs.

Sia and the other 24 have being supported from JSS1 unto SS 2 presently “we are happy with the progress of this first batch, they have constantly maintained their grades, they have been topping their class and above all the girls are retained in the school” Project Officer Kono LRP. Apart from given them scholarship ActionAid engaged them to be members of the VAW (Violence against Women Clubs) in their school “this has helped us to understand our bodies and how we can protect ourselves from getting pregnant earlier, which will make us drop out of School” Sia again.

ActionAid focus with these set also is to use as best practice and later mentors for other girls who will be in school “we plan to follow them even when they will be in university” Project Officer Kono LRP. Sia plans to be a lawyer when she finishes her studies in the future “I witnessed injustice to my uncle for his land, because he was poor, someone with money bribed the courts and he got the land, so I want to stop these kinds of injustices in my community” Sia says.

Sia Swankay, Senior Secondary School Pupil-Kono District poses in her Form.
Sia Swankay, SS2 pupil poses in her Form.
Jonathan Bundu/Actionaid Sierra Leone
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jonathan Y Bundu

Jonathan Y. Bundu  is the Communications and Campaigns Manager for ActionAid Sierra Leone