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GATE - Girls' Access to Education


Creating role models for girls in schools

Status: Current

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The lack of female teachers in Sierra Leone makes it hard for girls to aspire to a career of their own. Only 27% of girls are still enrolled in school by secondary level. 

GATE seeks to support marginalised girls and children with disabilities to reach their learning potential and transition from primary to secondary education and beyond. 

The Open University (OU) is helping young women who have dropped out of school pass their secondary exam, and become primary school teachers and role models for school girls. The OU has already supported around 500 female learning assistants, and will support 484 of these who have become student teachers and who are attending Teacher Training Colleges to develop their teaching practice.

A further 250 young women who have dropped out of school will be helped to pass their secondary school exams whilst supporting practical placements for them as learning assistants in schools.

Girls’ Education Challenge

The Learning Assistant programme was designed by The Open University and is delivered in partnership with the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE) as part of the as part of the DFID Girls’ Education Challenge Programme in Sierra Leone, led by Plan International UK. 

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One cohort of Learning Assistants has already become Student Teachers, working in rural primary schools and studying the teacher training college distance programme to become qualified teachers. Further waves of Learning Assistants are starting their practical school experience and independent study to enter teacher training colleges. They all make a difference to the quality of rural schools and the experiences of children. Learning Assistants and Student Teachers promote learning and aspiration. They are supported by their communities as they help build the future of Sierra Leone.

Catherine M Lahai lost both her parents before her secondary school exams, so there was no one to help her continue her education.  Catherine sells vegetables at the roadside to support herself while she studies to become a teacher.

The independent study in the programme has improved my study skills.  The in-school experience means I can proudly conduct class tests and much more. Before this, it was very much evident that I had no future hope, but today I strongly believe I am better placed both within and outside my community. It has created tremendous change in my life.

Catherine M. Lahai

The project is made possible by UK aid funding through the Girls Education Challenge Programme, set up by the UK Government. Local partners include international and national NGOs and a teacher training college, through which the project reaches over 180 rural primary schools.

The learning resources for the Improving Girls' Learning Outcomes project are freely available to all on the OpenLearn website under a Creative Commons license.