St Mary's C of E (Aided) Primary School, Pulborough

Report on Miss Turner's visit to Sierra Leone

What a privilege it was to have the opportunity to visit Sierra Leone during the February half term!


I have been a Trustee of Education West Africa since 2019 and was looking forward to spending some time in the schools that the charity has supported. Mrs Heath (Foundation Governor) and I, along with two other EWA team members, left Gatwick on Thursday 8th February and landed in Lungi early on the Friday morning. We were based in Freetown for the majority of our visit, travelling to Bo and Kenema for a few days in the middle. We received a very warm welcome from the Bishops of Freetown and Bo, along with the Education Secretaries for both dioceses. Accompanied by these teams, we visited a total of 28 schools over a period of five days!


As you may know, St Mary’s has an established link with SLC Lower School in Kenema. Before my departure, all of our Key Stage 2 children wrote letters and made a selection of gifts for me to take out to Sierra Leone – the children in Kenema were absolutely delighted to receive them! There are huge differences between schools in Sierra Leone and what we experience in the Western world. Education is extremely important to families in West Africa, as this can have a significant impact on children’s life chances in the future. Often children walk long distances to school to attend classes of up to 72! Some of the schools we visited were in very rural locations, only accessible by narrow tracks. In many schools, resources are limited and the buildings are in a state of disrepair. Schools in Sierra Leone follow the English National Curriculum and I noticed many similarities with the lessons that our teachers are delivering. Despite all of these challenges, the children that we met were cheerful, enthusiastic and showed real pride in their learning as they spoke to us.


The trip enabled us to identify which of the schools are in greatest need of support, and we will be continuing with our fundraising for Education West Africa as one of our school charities with refreshed determination. Previous donations from St Mary’s funded a well at our link school in Kenema – on our visit, we saw that this is currently not in operation and in need of refurbishment. In addition to this, we identified two schools that needed urgent help to repair their badly damaged buildings before the rainy season.


I will be talking to the children in school over the coming weeks to share further details of my trip and our fund-raising plans. In the meantime, if you would like to find out more about the work of Education West Africa, further information is available on our website and Facebook page: