Monday, 14 November 2016

Education is a human right; not a privilege.

Education is a human right; not a privilege.

Learning in EducAid Sierra Leone

It is a good thing actually I never knew at the time that Education is a right for me and other children of Sierra Leone who struggled (and are still struggling) to get an education. In my experience now as a young man, I have learned that education, like all rights, are there to uphold the freedom, respect, and dignity of every human and to treat everyone with fairness. And, I have also learned that my government, to whom I pay my taxes, has a responsibility in upholding and promoting the right of every Sierra Leonean to get an education. Seeing this month’s theme took me down memory lane.

I am specifically remembering the events which took place in my life about nine (9) years ago, forging the new path I was going to walk on. I was then in my first year of junior school and had just promoted to year two when all hell let loose on my mother. Years earlier, my father passed away in the rebel war, leaving my widowed mother with eight children in total. My mother was uneducated, and every day the pressures of paying rent, taking care of us, and sending us to school grew at exponential rates, after some time making it impossible for us to continue school. Our mother broke down to tears, as there was no one to turn to for help. Every few days, one of us, would be asked out of school for not having paid the ever numerous school fees the school requested. I was brilliant, and loved going to school; my teachers said I had a camera brain. But school had become a very difficult place for me to develop my camera brain.

Soon, my elder brother (very bright) dropped out of school, then my elder sister followed and got married instead to a man the age of our father. Mom couldn’t hold on anymore. The curtains were drawing down on our dreams. Our dreams of getting an education; my dream of becoming a doctor, and my twin sister becoming a lawyer flew too far for us to reach – we acquiesced. I learned the lesson, perhaps unconsciously, that education (as is the case with many rights I now know I had in law) is a privilege for those children born of ‘means’. It was a tough lesson for those of us born to poverty, but one well learned.

My hopes of getting educated were kissing the hand of death when I met EducAid. EducAid is a small organisation which provides education to underprivileged young people in Sierra Leone. It had a school open in my hometown of Port Loko. I spoke with my mother, who was in tears, this time of joy, that we can finally continue our education. What was even more relieving was that EducAid schools don’t require uniforms and you can come to school even in bare feet! What have uniforms, and shoes got to do with learning anyway?! I have been in EducAid for the past 9 years now. I attended secondary school free, went to college free. Since 2012, I have been volunteering and working in EducAid where I have the opportunity of helping underprivileged Sierra Leoneans to get an education by teaching, heading schools and leading teacher trainings where we strive to reach thousands more Sierra Leonean children with better learning.

Reflecting on my experience now, a light shines on the sheer magnitude of this problem. There were friends of mine at that time (and so many children right now) who faced a similar fate but did not have the helping hand with which they would have reached their dreams of an education. Many of them are now living in the streets of this country doing odd jobs, and becoming a burden to our society in many direct and indirect ways. Our society (their inaction), our government (their silence), and the rest of the world (their indifference) are violating a fundamental human right which continues to hold our country, and countries like ours in humiliating poverty.


Learning in EducAid Sierra Leone
I want my government and the whole world to know that in my country, and in many other parts of the world, right now, my story is being replayed. There are millions of children around the world at this moment who are being denied the right to true freedom and the capacity to lead a dignified life. Education, as I have come to know it, is the breath that frees the human mind, and capacitates one to lead a dignified life - let us make it a right, and not a privilege for those of means. For in this seed (education) I believe, each and every one of us shall reap the fruits of a more peaceful and prosperous society.  

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