Education enrolment rates are high in Sierra Leone, but pupil’s learning and progress is held back by challenging learning environments as teachers are faced with crowded classrooms and inadequate teaching resources.
In April 2023, VSO was delighted to launch an exciting new educational technology (edtech) project, Building Foundational Learning Through Technology (BFLTT) in Sierra Leone.
Working in partnership with the Government of Sierra Leone, this project will deliver increased learning outcomes for over 7,280 learners in 52 schools in two remote locations in Sierra Leone by using the award winning, comprehensive and scalable onecourse educational software powered by UK-based charity onebillion.
The programme will also create a cohort of trained and competent teachers on the use of edtech, and school leaders with the skills to manage edtech interventions in schools.
It is funded by the Hempel Foundation, with additional support from the UK government’s Foreign, Commonwealth and Development office (FDCO).
Building on success
The project builds on the successful Unlocking Talent pilot project, implemented in 20 schools (16 intervention schools and 4 control schools) in Kailahun and Pujehun Districts in 2021.
The project was funded by the Hempel Foundation and delivered by a consortium of partners led by VSO. Within each cluster we compared standard education practice to intervention with the Unlocking Talent programme, using four different types of onecourse software delivery:
- Split class: the teacher works with half the class whilst the other half work with tablets.
- Tablet sharing: the teacher pairs up students to work together with the tablet together.
- Remedial: low-achieving children work with onecourse individually, facilitated by the teacher.
- Projector: the teacher chooses specific content from onecourse to share with the whole class.
Phase one of the programme found that the Unlocking Talent approach significantly boosted learning of core foundational skills for early grade learners in Sierra Leone compared to standard schooling:
- With all the delivery models, children receiving instruction with onecourse in English made significantly greater gains in learning basic numeracy and literacy skills than children receiving standard classroom practice
- The Unlocking Talent approach equalised learning for boys and girls, whereas standard schooling promoted significant gender discrepancies that benefited boys over girls
The new programme will expand on this learning, testing the use of tablet sharing and the project models in the new schools, and produce comprehensive research by the EdTech Hub by the end of the 2023/2024 school year about the impact of each method on children’s learning.
Working in partnership with communities
Critical to the success of this programme, will be the partnership with the local communities where the projects are being implemented. VSO was pleased to have the paramount Chief of Pujehun district in attendance at the launch event in Freetown, along with local children from the schools.
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