National Children and Youth Summit in Sierra Leone

Read here about the National Children and Youth Summit held 2 weeks ago in Sierra Leone. Nearly 200 people, including children, youth with and without disabilities, teachers, policy makers, and civil society from across the country gathered in Freetown to collectively discuss ways to improve the education sector, increase access for girls and end child marriage.

The Summit was organized by Kids Advocacy Network and HER CHOICE partner OneFamilyPeople, and it has secured government commitment to take prompt action towards delivering safe, quality and equitable education that welcome all learners, regardless of their gender or disability.

His Excellency the Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Dr. Juldeh Jalloh gave the keynote speech on behalf of His Excellency the President, Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, who was out of the country on official state visit.

While commending OneFamilyPeople and Kids Advocacy Network for organizing the event, His Excellency promised prompt action will be taken by the government on the recommendations arising from the interactive sessions.

These are the recommendations and the Call to Action

“We call on governments to:

  • Allocate at least 20% of national budget to education – addressing girls and disability-specific needs as well as allowing pregnant girls to attend school and take public exams.
  • Increase the salary of teachers and Develop New Condition of Services for effective teaching
  • Establish and strengthen school monitoring systems to ensure punctuality among teachers and effective teaching.
  • Depoliticize the education system, recruit trained and qualified teachers and conduct regular training or provide scholarship for unqualified teachers in service for over five years.
  • Allow the teaching of sex education in school and distribution of condoms to adolescents’ girls who are sexually active.
  • Develop and implement a disability-inclusive education policy, plan and strategy which respond appropriately to the scale and diverse needs of girls including those with disabilities.
  • Prioritise early childhood development for children with disabilities, including developing professional skills and community-based approaches to early intervention. This must include strengthening early detection and intervention services to eliminate or reduce the disabling effects of impairment.
  • Invest in improving data and evidence on disability-inclusive education.
  • Engage in strategic partnerships with NGOs, DPOs and parent organisations to overcome gaps in capacity.
  • Put in place social protection mechanisms (e.g. support grants for poor families) to address the multiple disadvantage faced by children with disabilities who, for example, are girls, orphans and live in remote rural areas or slums.”