Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE)
(A Save Sierra Leone Foundation Educational Support Project)
organization, the Forum for African Women Educationalists (FAWE), Sierra Leone
Chapter was founded as a local Non-Governmental Organization (NGO), nineteen years ago in 1995 by twenty one women educationalists including Dr. Talabi Asie Lucan, Sierra Leone's preeminent historian and writer, Cannon Mrs. Gracie Williams, former principal of Annie Walsh Memorial School and Dr. Christiana Thorpe, former electoral commissioner of Sierra Leone. Starting out from a
one room building that served as both our headquarters and our first school, FAWE has consistently progressed from its humble beginnings to become the
leading NGO in Sierra Leone promoting education as the means of advancement
amongst under privileged girls and women. FAWE provides education and training to underprivileged girls and women in 17 FAWE Schools throughout the country. Our efforts have positively touched the lives of over 8,000 destitute young girls most of whom have been victims of sexual abuse during the tragic civil war of 1991-2002. Our schools/training centres provide a safe and refreshing haven for these young women; a place where they can acquire the basic knowledge, skills, self-confidence and pride to claim their rightful place in society as productive individuals.
Empowerment of women through education for economic development.
According to UNDP's Gender Inequality Index (GII[i]) which reflects gender-based inequalities in three dimensions – reproductive health, empowerment, and economic activity, in 2012, Sierra Leone ranked 139 out of 148 countries with a GII value of 0.643. The reports collectively show that in Sierra Leone, only 9.5 percent of adult women have reached a secondary or higher level of education compared to 20.4 percent of their male counterparts. Also Female participation in the labour market is also lagging at 66.3 percent compared to 69.1 for men and only 12.9 percent of parliamentary seats are held by women.
| United Nations Development Programme's (UNDP) Gender Inequality Index. |
|Population with at least secondary education (%) ||Labour force participation rate (%) |
| Country||GII value||GII Rank||Maternal mortality ratio||Adolescent fertility rate||Female seats in parliament (%)||Female||Male||Female||Male|
|Sierra Leone || 0.643|| 139|| 890|| 104.2|| 12.9|| 9.5|| 20.4|| 66.3||69.1|
Various studies and statistics on poverty situation in Sierra Leone tend to indicate that if women are empowered through education, the country as a whole will definitely benefit. In 2005 Statistics Sierra Leone conducted the Sierra Leone Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey[ii] (MICS 3) which amongst other things indicated that more children of male heads, 70.2 percent live in absolute poverty compared to the 63.9 percent of children of female heads who also live in absolute poverty. Along this trend Sierra Leone's first Poverty Reduction Strategy Paper (PRSP), concluded it report with this statement: "taking into consideration three indicators of poverty, namely the head count, the intensity of poverty, and the severity of poverty, poverty in male-headed households is deeper and more severe than in female-headed households" (PRSP 2005:29:1). These studies show that the stark reality in Sierra Leone is that the one gender group that is the most populous, living longer and better equipped to run families is the group given the least educational priority. At FAWE, we are committed to addressing this issue of gender inequality through our educational programs and our advocacy efforts.
[i] UNDP Gender Inequality Index – sub report of UNDP Human Development Report 2013
To increase the level of literacy in Sierra Leone.
Supporting Girls and Women to acquire Education for Development.
The Potential:Our progress over the years was largely made possible through the support, - both financial and in kind- received from our generous donors who over the years have run the gamut from government entities like the the European Union and the U.S. Embassy in Sierra Leone, to corporate entities like the Oprah Winfrey Show and Deutsche Welle, from international non-profits like our US support partner, Save Sierra Leone Foundation to to local in-country NGOs and private citizens. We also have in place a strong management team that executes consistently well, guided by a Board of Directors committed to delivering exceptional results. Our job at FAWE is to ensure that our students succeed in their educational pursuits despite the tremendous odds they face; their ultimate educational success, gives us our greatest pride and sense of accomplishment. Because of this commitment to our students, we are consistently seeking ways to mitigate the financial constrains limiting access to education for the under privileged. In 2009 we established FAWE Printers, a printing and book binding company tasked with the primary objective to produce quality and affordable educational materials that will accelerate literacy country wide. FAWE Printers also offers general printing services to business and individuals at competitive prices to help generate revenue to support the discounts we offer educational institutions. We also use this revenue to augment the income we receive from donors to help our marginalized girls. Our persistent efforts in removing financial barriers and other impediments to education are yielding results and we are quite pleased to say that some students from our very first group of beneficiaries entered colleges in 2012 and are now pursuing their tertiary education. An encouraging number of these students passed the WASSCE, 2012 exams with solid grades and two of them, Stella Kromanson and Kumba Foday-Ngongou were amongst the top performing girls in the country. As success tends to reinforce itself, the awareness that acquiring education is essential for personal advancement is more pronounced in the minds of our students today than at any other time in our history. We believe that FAWE is poised for dramatic growth in the ensuing years and as we enter this exciting phase of our journey, we are grateful that Save Sierra Leone Foundation is committed to supporting our efforts as we continue to turn educational dreams into reality for the underprivileged girls in Sierra Leone.
P.S. We recently received the following correspondence from Miss Kumba M. Foday-Ngongou a FAWE Protégée. I believe it sums up what FAWE is all about and I want to share it with you as our parting gift. S. Njai-Koroma.
MY STORY AS TOLD BY A FAWE BENEFICIARY: Kumba M. Foday-Ngongou
My name is Kumba M. Foday-Ngongou and I was born to Mr. Sahr Alex Foday-Ngongou, a community health officer and Mrs. Christiana Foday-Ngongou, a school teacher on 30th December 1995. I am a Christian by religion, Kono by tribe and a Sierra Leonean by nationality. I came to Freetown in September 1998 at the age of three, together with mother and my elder sister as displaced persons from Kabala. On 6th January 1999, rebels attacked and invaded the city and the house in which we were living at Pademba road was burnt down. We had to look for another place to stay, we found shelter at a house in Fort Street but that was short lived as the Fort Street house was also burnt down the following night.
In spite of these traumatic experiences during my first six months in Freetown, my mother was determined that I should get an education. I started my nursery education at Dunnet Preparatory School and later joined my elder sister at FAWE School where I received my primary school education; from class one to class six. I passed the National Primary School Examination (N.P.S.E.) in 2006 with a score of three hundred and sixty seven (367) and with support from FAWE; I was able to continue my secondary school education at the Annie Walsh Memorial School, from JSS 1 through SSS 3. I had very good grades in all subjects when I took my West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and I am presently a student at the Njala University, majoring in Banking and Finance and pursuing a Bachelor of Science Degree, as I would like to be a banker sometime in the future.
FAWE Freetown branch had been very instrumental in my education and I have benefited from FAWE scholarships from JSS1 up to the present. I shall remain grateful to FAWE for their care and support in making me who I am today. I also appreciate the Founding Chair, Madam Christiana Thorpe and her executive team for their financial support which aided my mother in getting me into university. Thanks and appreciation also go to the Coordinator, Mrs. Eileen Hanciles for her motherly advice. I am very grateful to and certainly not forgetting Mrs. Jojo my former Head teacher, Mrs. Elfrida Scott, other executive members and the entire membership of FAWE Freetown branch.
As long as I live, I shall always keep the banner of FAWE flying higher and higher everywhere I find myself. I also promise that when I reach the top rung of the ladder of success, I will not forget to reach down and help other girls who are challenged, to go to school and get an education.
-Kumba M. Foday-Ngongou – FAWE sponsored Njala University Student.