(Main Class Room Block, Christ The King College, Bo City)
Imagine you were born to a family of modest means, the eldest of five female children with the crushing weight of expectation constantly on your shoulders.
Many would fret at the mere thought, but 14-year-old Mamie Bindi lives and endeavours to thrive in this reality. Resilient, steadfast and hardworking, she bears the hallmarks of an ideal role model and torch bearer for her younger siblings.
(A Smiling Mamie Bindi)
Mamie is from Bo District, in the Southern Province of Sierra Leone, and is currently a JSS 3 pupil of Vision Academy Junior Secondary School. She is preparing for the upcoming Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) which will determine her admission into Senior Secondary School. It is a welcoming opportunity for her to participate in the pilot of the Learning Passport (LP) and test her mettle against variations of the questions she will soon face.
The Learning Passport is a United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Microsoft-supported digital education platform that provides online and offline access to educational resources via technology devices. LP forms part of UNICEF’s Reimagining Education agenda under the flagship program Generation Unlimited.
(ST Foundation Computer Lab Where BECE Pilot Was Conducted)
In line with Sierra Leone’s Education Sector Plan 2018-2020, LP looks to make accessible, equitable and quality education available on a large scale. The platform was launched in Sierra Leone in February 2022
For Mamie and many other children who live in the provinces, this initiative in Bo is a testament to the shared and unrelenting commitment between the Government and UNICEF to advance the frontiers of education for every child across Sierra Leone. The BECE pilot ran for a period of four weeks, involving 100 learners across 10 different locations, which included Christ The King College (CKC) in Bo City.
( Participants Engaged In Pilot )
Ibrahim Sawaneh a teacher at CKC who coordinated the LP pilot at the lab, spoke on the benefits of this initiative; “Getting the pupils to participate in simulated digital examinations with automatic results is beneficial to both teachers and pupils; it fosters preparedness of the pupils and helps teachers to identify subject areas which would require increased focus and attention.”
(Messrs. Sawaneh (Extreme Left) & Ade (Extreme Right) Pose With Participants Outside Computer Lab)
Charged with the mandate of transforming Sierra Leone into an innovation and entrepreneurship hub, Bani Forster, LP Project Coordinator at DSTI believes “strong foundations in digital education set the stage for the evolution of future technocrats, innovators and entrepreneurs, hence the need to develop robust interventions that guide their development”.
UNICEF Sierra Leone’s Innovation Officer and Learning Passport Project Lead, Janice Williams, highlighted the progress made on upscaling access to digital opportunities for children.
“With the pilot of the BECE Learning Passport, we are making progress to deliver on UNICEF’s Reimagine Education agenda. Making digital platforms like the Learning Passport available means taking a bold leap towards making digital learning one of the essential toolkits for every child and young person in Sierra Leone.”
Looking ahead into the future, Mamie hopes to pass her BECE exams and attend the Methodist Girls High School in Freetown. Empowered with the confidence provided by the simulated exams, she feels eager and prepared to attempt the exam; “I am very happy to be part of this transformative process. The pilot helps me to identify subject areas that require increased attention and builds up my computer skills” she affirmed.
It would seem her dream to become an accountant is well on its way to becoming reality.