Sierra Leone ranks among the lowest 5% on the Human Development Index with a literacy rate of 64%. Since the civil war ended, the Education sector has made great strides with improving access to Primary Education, with a current GER of 122%. However, the 2014 Ministry of Education, Science and Technology nationwide Early Grades Reading Assessment indicated that school pupils are not learning. Most Class 4 pupils were unable to read fluently and with comprehension and the majority of Class 2 and 4 students did not know letter sounds or have word decoding skills. Furthermore, School Related Gender Based Violence (SRGBV) and inequality are major barriers to the education of marginalized children in Sierra Leone. Children, especially girls, are exposed to significant violence within schools, families and communities. Moving through the education system, gender disparity widens in terms of retention and learning outcomes, with girls less likely to complete school and gain functional literacy skills.
In partnership with the UCD School of Education, Concern Worldwide is embarking on a five-year research study to provide robust evidence on combined strategies for improving learning and reducing SRGBV. Based on the hypothesis that education programmes systematically addressing SRGBV will achieve better learning outcomes, The Safe Learning Model has been developed to holistically engage children, schools, families and communities in an integrated programme addressing safety, wellbeing and learning.