School Re-openings and Examinations.

In light of the current debate in Ireland regarding opening/closing of schools and the form of examinations in the coming year, the following two comments may give an insight as to how Sierra Leone is coping with these issues. The first is a comment by Rita Foday and the second is from Eddie Finnegan.

Completion of exams will lead to complete re-opening of schools on October 5th in SL:

Following the lifting of bans on inter-district travels, the ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School announced the resumption of schools for the examination classes with the hope of preparing for their respective exams. In this regard schools were reopened for pupils in the sixth class  (final year  class in the primary school) as well as those in the final classes in both the  Junior Secondary School and Senior Secondary School as they prepare for their NPSE, BECE and WASSCE respectively. On August 3, the sixth class Primary School pupils  across the country had their exams. Successful candidates will be promoted to the Junior Secondary School. The examination lasts for a day with the pupils answering questions in five course areas:  English, Mathematics, Quantitative Aptitude, Verba Aptitude and General Paper.

Similarly,  from August 11 to September 8, those in the final class in the Senior Secondary School wrote their final examination. Worthy to note at this juncture is the fact that none of the pupils in this category was found to be living with the virus; hence,  no one took the exam in an isolation centre.

Lastly, over the next 2 weeks, those in the final class in the Junior Secondary School will commence their examinations.

Examination Results:

Minister for Education Moinina David Sengeh has announced the results of the NPSE exam taken on August 3. While there is an emphasis on the top scoring candidates (top 5 from Freetown / Western Area primary schools), schools in the Eastern Province came close to top Freetown schools. It is no surprise that the East’s two top-scoring pupils are from Cluny-Free-the-Children Primary in Koidu. No surprise either that the East’s top three schools are all Religious or Mission foundations: 1. Cluny-FTC Koidu; 2. Badru Deen Islamic Segbwema; 3. Methodist Primary Dambu, Kailahun. Cluny-FTC had the largest entry of the three, 57 pupils.  .



Students from Sierra Leone studying Masters Programmes in Ireland

Currently there are 3 students from Sierra Leone studying Masters Courses in Ireland. They are funded under the Irish Aid Scholarship Programme. The following is an article written by Aminata Seilloh Conteh who is studying for an MA in International Development in University College Dublin.

Whilst I was preparing for a 12 months Master’s Degree in the Republic of Ireland, I forgot to pack the zest for screaming “Nollaig Shona” alone from a room in the Glenomena Residences with a window that faces the woods.

Together with 7 country mates, we flew from Freetown to Dublin on a Thursday afternoon with all the excitement like a 5-years-old. We have worked hard for this, prayed for it and flew with one mind to sharpen our excellence. Being awarded the Irish-Aid 2020/21 scholarship was an honor and as we pranced with regal importance to our different schools across Ireland, we still kept one heart.

Amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, we pulled through a trimester, catching up on phone and seldom arranging meetings. For the two others who lived farther off, we threw pictures and smiles their way.

Nonetheless, staying sane through this global halt has been a personal decision. I lost a sister back home but found a strong support system from school and few friends I met here. School has been good too – with an intentional dress-up for every zoom class becoming a habit.  

It’s Christmas Eve and after looking around, I do have a lot to be grateful for. There’s a family that constantly cheers me on, there are friends who believe in and motivate me, and there is the Irish Government who makes sure I don’t lack everything; there is the University College Dublin, whose excellence does not only radiate from its beautiful pictures I wowed at on the internet, but has been consistent in nurturing the International Development Expert I desire to become and there is me, a whole ball of perseverance.

It’s Christmas Eve and I got mashed potatoes for breakfast in an apartment where every other student returned home for the holidays. Dublin City Centre is full of life – we toss the spirit of Christmas around behind our facemasks. The lights are on, trees are dressed with Red, Green and Gold ornaments and we cross ourselves, tightly gripping our shopping bags.

I do think of home, I miss the fairs, laughs and family tradition. But here is home too and even though I am alone in my room, my heart is out on the streets, enjoying the warmth of the season, sending messages to other Irish Aid Fellows across the world whilst I sip Irish Coffee, stare through my window and whisper “Nollaig Shona / Api Krismes” to myself.

Tomorrow is Christmas Day and I can only ask Santa to “Heal the World” and restore Joy to nations – the type we sing about in carols.

 Aminata Seilloh Conteh

Irish Aid Fellow – Sierra Leone






New Book Published

Joe Manning, a member of SLIP has informed us of the availability of a new book which may be of interest. Peadar King who has a regular documentary slot on RTE ( he did one from SL a few years) has written a book called “War, Suffering and the Struggle for Human Rights.”Should you decide to purchase it, may I ask you to please support your local bookstore. For those of you outside of Ireland and who may wish to purchase, it is also available from Book Depository with free worldwide posting.–Suffering-and-the-Struggle-for-Human-Rights/9781916099821

The following is a review from the Irish Times:A Call to Humanity in a World Full of Atrocity’, The Irish Times  

“Just got this book three days ago and I have finished reading it already. Once I began reading it, it was hard to put down. … I highly recommend it. Being a critical contrarian sort of person I usually find some fault with most books I read. This book in my view is both timely and exceptionally good.” – Edward Horgan, peace activist.

David Moinina Sengeh on Twitter

David Moinina Sengeh, The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and Chief Innovation Officer for the Directorate of Science, technology and Innovation in Sierra Leone (@dsengeh) tweeted at 3:52 PM on Tue, Dec 08, 2020:
In responding to a Parliamentary summons today, I invited all citizens to support the efforts of @PresidentBio to provide accessible quality education for all children in #SierraLeone- #RadicalInclusion. We can’t politicise education service delivery if our country must progress!

An Evening of Sharing Stories and Dreams in Kimmage Manor — Jim Owens


In early March 2020 Sierra Leone Ireland Partnership invited two significant guests from Sierra Leone; Dr Stanela Beckley, Chairperson of The Sierra Leone Teaching Service Commission and Bishop Henry Aruna, recently appointed bishop of Kenema Diocese.  They were the guest speakers at a conference in Maynooth University. The day after the conference 6th March they were willing guests at a great and joyful gathering in the parish Hall at Kimmage Manor, Whitehall Road Dublin 12.   It was more relaxed than the busy conference atmosphere but a significant opportunity to share stories and views, pray together and enjoy good Spiritan hospitality. It was an important opportunity to converse with the two guests from Sierra Leone.

To use a phrase often heard in Sierra Leone, on the ‘compound’ of Kimmage Parish Hall is a residence for many Spiritan Missionaries some of whom enjoyed many years of ministry in Sierra Leone, and many of whom joined the meeting.  Among the other participants were a number of Missionary Sisters of the Holy Rosary and also many lay people who had connections and interest in Sierra Leone. Also among the many participants was a former volunteer teacher in Sierra Leone in the late 1970s who has since been ordained a Church of Ireland minister.

The afternoon began with the Honorary Consul for Sierra Leone Mr Joe Manning sharing words of warm welcome. Then each of the guests spoke briefly about themselves and some of the responsibilities they face in their respective roles.  A number of other people also shared their stories of Sierra Leone and asked questions.  Dr Stanela gave an outline of the many challenges currently facing schooling in Sierra Leone with particular emphasis on the need for a greater numbers of qualified teachers. The problem is more acute in rural schools especially those a good distance from urban centres.   Bishop Henry spoke about the demands on the diocese of Kenema to support the many schools under Catholic patronage.  Sometimes they have the responsibility without the authority.  There are many government demands and regulations but the financial support is often limited and obtaining recognition and support is quite bureaucratic.

Fr Michael Fillie, a native of Sierra Leone, was among the many contributors who spoke with passion about the needs and dreams of Sierra Leone.

After the conversations the group were invited by Mr Jim Owens to take some time for prayer and reflection. Sr Bridget Lacey MSHR read a gospel passage from Luke 4:16-22. It gives the blueprint for ministry; sharing the good news with poor people, liberty to those in captivity or downtrodden and healing to those bearing illnesses or disability.  In the group present people had and were living out the directives of the reading.

After the prayer Mr Ciaran McGoey and the never-tiring former teachers of Yengema Secondary School presented a cheque to Bishop Henry for the further development of the YSS. It was the result of a great fundraising concert in Longford Cathedral.