Sierra Leone RISE Network
Who we are
Reading Initative Salone (RISE) Network is a network of organizations committed to the development of libraries and reading rooms in schools in Sierra Leone as a way of promoting literacy and a love for reading. The network was established in 2012 by a group of organizations that are committed to the promotion of quality education and literacy skills in Sierra Leone. The organizations are: Society for Knowledge Management-Sierra Leone, The Learning Foundation-SL, The Sierra Leone Library Board, The Village Link, US Peace Corps Sierra Leone, and Sierra Leone PEN. RISE member organizations consist of individuals with years of experience in Education, Library and Information Science, Information and Communication Technology, and project management.
What daily life is like here
School children wake up in the morning and complete their morning chores. These usually consist of sweeping around the compound and fetching water from the well. Only a few towns in the whole country have electricity and running water. The average student lives without. Afterwards they wash, dress in their uniform, and walk to school. Some students can walk over 3 miles one way for a day of learning.
Sierra Leone schools teach the four core subjects of English, math, social studies, and science along with electives like agricultural science, religious studies, home economics and local languages. Many schools are run by religious missions, which are either Christian or Islamic, but they admit students of any faith. “Salone” is known for their great religious tolerance. Books are a rarity so the students must copy copious notes from their teachers. Their notebooks become their textbooks. Many schools suffer from a shortage of teachers and consequently the students have empty periods in their schedules. At the end of the day it is the students’ responsibility to clean the school yard and classrooms.
After school most students help cook, wash clothes, and watch their siblings. Other students assist their families in the market selling items like fruit or candies. In the evenings they study their notebooks by lamp light. However, when the moon is full all the children in the neighborhood come out to play in the bright and cool night air.
Why we work with the African Library Project
The need for libraries or reading rooms in Sierra Leone is great. One of the recommendations of the latest Government White Paper is that every school should have a library. Yet, from the latest school census report, only about 7 percent of schools have libraries and most children do not have access to public libraries.
We appreciate our partnership with the African Library Project, as we feel that it contributes to our common goal to develop a reading culture among students in Africa, and Sierra Leone in particular.
How we work with the African Library Project
The RISE Network puts out a call for library applications using ALP’s process, working in partnership with various organizations and individuals. Schools are selected using a transparent, documented process.
The coalition receives the container and distributes the books to the schools. Our network of individuals, politicians, and private companies helps us clear customs and provides in-kind logistical support.
All our member organizations have experience in training teacher librarians. We do this in as decentralized a way as possible in order to reduce the costs associated with traveling. SKM-SL and Sierra Leone Library Board have trained and qualified people in library and information science who jointly lead this activity.
Monitoring and Evaluation is an important part of project management, and the coalition members have expertise to perform training and rigorous monitoring of library sites on a quarterly basis. The Reading Clubs we've started at a number of our sites meet weekly and are quite popular.
What we have accomplished with ALP
In 2013, our first year of partnership with ALP, we completed 35 libraries. Each year we receive a container of books that have been matched to our schools' needs. We are working hard to recover from the Ebola epidemic and look forward to improving our students' educations.
Dr. Bidemi Carroll is co-founder of The Learning Foundation-SL, one of the RISE Network members. In November 2014, Dr. Carroll visited ALP in California to give an update on education in Sierra Leone, including the challenges of the Ebola outbreak.
To listen to an audio recording of her remarks click the links below.
Part 1 - 8 minutes
Part 2 - 8 minutes
Part 3 - 7 minutes
Our hopes and wishes
We hope that through these partnerships we will be able to bring books to all children in Sierra Leone and help develop a love for reading and learning.
How you can help
Please organize a book drive!
Our sincere thanks to the people making it happen
Thank you to everyone helping to make these library dreams become a reality - book drive organizers, African Library Project, shippers, our local schools and organizations, book and monetary donors and the hardworking collaborators at the RISE Network.
To learn more about the African Library Project
Number of ALP Libraries with RISE Network: 179 (Jan 2018)
Number of readers reached: 161,000