The beginning of the school year always feels like a promise of good things to come and at the SGUW schools in Sierra Leone we are seeing lots of smiling faces eager to get going. As we begin our third year teaching Life Skills classes, there is a celebratory feeling. Our students are enthusiastic and excited.
At the beginning of every year, the students choose a name for their class. This gives them a project to work on together and builds community among the students.
Here are the creative names chosen by four of our classes in Freetown this year:
2.Perseverance brings success
3. unity for all hatred for none
4.Girls for life
Another first day routine is to ask the girls about their expectations for the class and what they hope to learn from this experience. This gives us a gauge of their interests and subject knowledge and starts the critical thinking part of the curriculum.
These are the student's expectations from Devine Academy at Peacock Farm in Freetown:
1. Learn new things my parents can't teach me.
2. Expect to learn about being a teenager.
3. To learn not to be forced into early marriage.
4. Learn about teenage pregnancy.
5. Proud to be a girl. ( I love this one)
This year, in Bo Town we welcomed two new schools into the SGUW family. The Kakua Junior Secondary and Tina Memorial Secondary schools.
At Kakua Junior the students discussed challenges instead of expectations.
Some of the challenges were:
1. Early/forced marriage
2. Teenage pregnancy
3. sexual penetration
4. child prostitution
5. stigma and discrimination against girls
As readers of this blog know, the expectations and challenges identified by the students face the majority of girls around the world and we tend to view them as macro or global issues. But, they also face these particular girls on a daily basis so they are personal issues for them. These girls need tangible and specific information about how to deal with these challenges and that is exactly the mission of SGUW.
We are looking forward to a wonderful year of learning and exploration with these smart, STRONG GIRLS!
A few pics from the first few sessions of class.