Yesterday, November 1st, BADP Sierra Leone Director Daniel Koroma held a town hall meeting with select Bumpeh Academy staff and local community leader Ms Kaimbay. The purpose: providing all parents of Bumpeh Academy Secondary School with up-to-date information about the upcoming school water well project. Mr Koroma’s brief introduction was followed by a speech from Ms Kaimbay, the Director of the Community Center for Empowerment and Transformation (CCET) in Rotifunk. CCET is a close ally of and partner organization for BADP, having provided safe transfer of funds for projects in the past, logistical support for construction, and even allowed BADP to use the Rotifunk community center free of charge to run teacher training workshops in December of 2017. With the water well for Bumpeh Academy expected to begin shortly, both Mr Koroma and Ms Kaimbay talked in length about the project’s timeline and how BADP and the Bumpeh Academy community, with the assistance of CCET, plan on closely monitoring and evaluating the progress of the project over the coming 4-5 months. Constructing a water well is BADP's most immediate project, and the most immediate need for the rapidly growing Bumpeh Academy. Both Bumpeh and the nearby Evangelical Model Primary School are both located a half kilometer outside of Rotifunk and have no current source of fresh water. The combined almost 750 students and staff of both schools either have to walk back into town for water, or to the nearby village of Saima, another half kilometer down the road from
BADP recently wired over funds to hire a local contractor to repair old desks and classroom furniture as well as build new equipment. School security and vandalism has been a problem for all of Bumpeh Academy’s short history, as the lack of proper facilities meant that equipment could not be protected after school hours. However, with recent construction progress, Bumpeh Academy has been able to secure three classrooms, and as such can start investing in improving the furniture needed to make the classrooms fully serviceable learning zones. Our local team agreed on a fair quote and quantity with a local contractor for a set of desks, chairs and benches. By hiring locally and sourcing all of our supplies locally, including timber produced and cut within Bumpeh Chiefdom, BADP is making sure that 100% of the value invested in the project is being pumped back into the local economy. Though purchasing and shipping western-built desks can seem like a good decision, such practices undermine our commitment to empowering local solutions and providing agency over every level of project development. Decisions like hiring a local contractor and insisting on local supplies can seem nominal from an outside perspective, but it is this decision making process, this commitment to local economy that makes the greatest positive change over a long duration, that ensures the greatest chances of long-term sustainability and independence. We are committing to not just working with the Rotifunk community to provide improved circumstances, but to provide opportunity at several different
Yesterday, BADP co-founder and Bumpeh Academy Principal Rashid Conteh passed away unexpectedly at the young age of 44. Rashid was an absolute rock of the Rotifunk community. Respected by everyone throughout the town for his dedication and work ethic, and revered for his efforts in continually improving Bumpeh Academy. At many points in the school’s young life, Rashid was single-handedly responsible for pushing developments forward, his infectious passion and determination propelling projects forward and keeping the school in an upward trajectory. Rashid was a champion of education, and an inspiration to everyone in Rotifunk, a perfect example of overcoming adverse circumstances. Born with a disability that he never used as an excuse, Rashid was driven and bright, leveraging whatever disadvantages he might have had by continually applying to scholarships and higher education designed for those with disabilities. Only one month prior, Rashid successfully defended his doctoral thesis at IPAM University in Public Management in front of a panel of some of Sierra Leone’s pre-eminent public administrators. Though Rashid is no longer with us, his determination will never be forgotten and his past influence will continue to guide Bumpeh Academy, and BADP, as they both move into new phases. You will be missed Rashid.
The final session was about incorporating community and everyday life into school and academics. More specifically, talking about collaboration and cooperation inside and outside of school. Teachers loved the idea of the community partnership. Our facilitator drew a big box on the board, and wrote “school” in the middle. Following on the idea of “it takes a village to raise a child”, the facilitator told the teachers that it wasn’t a school’s job alone to educate youth. He then asked them what other important institutions existed in Rotifunk. People shouted out church, mosque, bank, market, hospital, police station, other schools, etc. The facilitator wrote each and every one in the big box. Next he asked what a community partnership was. Confused looks. Nobody yet knew where he was going with the idea. Finally he asked the teachers what subjects they taught. Economics, religion, agriculture, biology…. Slowly, they grasped what he was introducing. Drawing arrows between each institution and the school, the facilitator explained the value of bringing in guest speakers/instructors/teachers to help illustrate the real-world applications of economics, religion, agriculture, biology, by simply inviting in the banker, imam, trader, doctor, etc. As secondary school teachers, their job is not just to deliver the curriculum, but tie it to the real world, as the students’ age puts an increased focus on developing skills and understanding applications rather than just intake of curriculum. It was a brief but very fruitful session, and full of wide-eyed epiphanies for the teachers. Immediately after the
Today was my favorite training session yet. Rashid did a magnificent job. He delivered the single most engaging and practical training yet in what was his first scheduled session, “Getting Around the Resource Barrier”. BADP is now past halfway in its training series bringing updated education methodology and instantly practical ideas to Rotifunk’s secondary school teachers. Yesterday’s session, the seventh of eleven, was the first for BADP co-founder, Rashid Conteh, entitled “Getting Around the Resource Barrier”. More than any other session in the training series, session seven was designed explicitly to combat the consistent difficulties that come from teaching in a low-resource environment. And not stopping at just combatting the difficulties, but find solutions with anything present to still make lessons as successful and engaging as possible. It’s a very real and common problem for teachers not only in Rotifunk, Sierra Leone or Sub-Saharan Africa, but in any developing region world wide. Rashid Conteh took full ownership of the session and its material, making it likely the most informative and entertaining training yet. The three main techniques discussed in the session were Peer Teaching, Everyday Objects, and Reporter/Reflector, each one designed to be used to make dialogue or conversation or simple objects all useful teaching props and techniques. Peer Teaching is the idea of partnering strong students with weaker ones, whether in a partnership or a group, to better help weak students understand topics, while reinforcing stronger students’ understanding. Everyday Objects is particularly valuable for a place like Bumpeh