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Public education on Public Education: Bursting myths of Radical Inclusion

Tomorrow I’ll launch the 2021 Annual School Census. We’ll also launch a sweet app developed with @Fab_Inc_dev which shows #SierraLeone education data from 2015-2021. I will share the details after the program.

But for now hear this!!! See how we are bursting myths with data. The number of pregnant girls in schools is lower in 2021 than 2020!!

When we were advocating for the inclusion of pregnant girls into school, even though there was no evidence to prove so, we were told that this will increase the number of pregnant girls in schools. We argued that this view was not supported by evidence and we promised to collect the data to verify or disprove that hypothesis.

For two years now we collect data seperately on the number of pregnant girls in schools and the number of pregnant girls attempting Examinations. In addition, we engage in communities at all levels inviting any and all pregnant girls to come to school. We anticipated that there will be a significant increase in fact because there’s no taboo, no discrimination and even some support to the girls who are victims of abuse in most instances. As such, more do turn up. Communities report that all pregnant girls do attend. But then, we are seeing magic.

Pregnant girls at Examination centers reduced. Pregnant girls in schools reduced. Surprised? Don’t believe?

Why? you wonder. I’ll tell you some:

  1. We had a zero school girl pregnancy campaign in all districts.
  2. The President, his government, the First Lady and all local leaders speak about protecting girls and girls education everywhere and anywhere.
  3. We included Comprehensive Sexuality Education in the curriculum and teaching materials and trained stakeholders about this.
  4. We engaged all stakeholders including parents and media on Radical Inclusion. There are very few people who haven’t heard of Radical Inclusion in Sierra Leone.
  5. We shortened exam wait time (our data is so granular we know the grade level and schools of these girls and knew that transition classes experienced most pregnancies)
  6. We made Radical Inclusion a flagship policy of the Ministry.

And more…

So it wasn’t really magic. It’s a model of a transformational policy that was done with inclusion at the heart (market women, bike riders, ministers, all staff, teachers, Chiefs, etc); focusing of a vision that relied on evidence, and justice. This was followed by the development of complementary guidelines like the Implementation frameworks and monitoring frameworks. We also built accountability in it. The thing is, across all 4 focus areas of Radical Inclusion, the data reveal such great news. More kids with disabilities are enrolling and doing well in schools and there’s improved rural school performance etc.

We even developed the Freetown Manifesto, which is a global Gender Equality in Education document that will headline the UN Transforming Education Summit in a few weeks.

Boy, I mean Girl, am I proud of my team!!!

This said, we have a lot to do! I want this number to come to zero. We need to be even more ambitious. 950 pregnant girls is too much. That’s our future we are limiting. What can we do to ensure we protect our girls and keep them safe? How do we ensure that every kid can access and stay safely in schools? What’s the next Radical Inclusion idea you have?
Bursting myths with #RadicalInclusion https://t.co/sKi2n7P0nV

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