Edlyn Smith

Age? 14.

Hometown? Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone.

Family? Father, mother, younger brother, grandmother, and two cousins.

Hobbies? Drawing and reading.

Delight Abdul Wahab Konneh

Age? 16.

Hometown? Bo town.

Family? Foster father and five siblings.

Hobbies? Football, handball, choir and playing with friends.

5 facts about youth in Sierra Leone

44 % of Sierra Leoneans are under 15 years old. 33 % of Sierra Leonean youth complete secondary school. 47 % of girls have a baby or get pregnant before turning 18. The literacy rate is 27 % for women, but more than 50 % for men.

Interview with Edlyn and Delight

Edlyn and Delight are two Sierra Leonean youth. Both go to school and hope all Sierra Leonean children and youth would be able to do the same.

How do you like your schools, Delight and Edlyn ?

DELIGHT: The school environment is nice and loving. I just love my school. The school spirit is really powerful. We all, the pupils, we like the school. My favorite thing in school is to play football, to study, and handball also. We come to school at 7.30 and spend around five hours in school.

EDLYN: I’m attending a Modern High School. I’m happy for the school I’m going because not every kid is privileged to go to that kind of school.

How many pupils are there in your class?

D: In my class we are 50 in number. We have 28 ladies and 22 boys. If we calculate all we are 900 in this school. This school was the first to bring the two sexes together, male and female, bring them together in the same classroom. This school is one of the best schools in Bo Town and also one of the best schools in Sierra Leone.

E: In my class there are 29 pupils. 9 boys and 20 girls.

”In our country, Sierra Leone, if you do not go to school you are not recognized in society. If you don’t go to school, you are nothing.”

– Delight

What does education mean in Sierra Leone?

D: In Sierra Leone, if you do not go to school you are not recognized in society. If you don’t go to school, you are nothing. Education is the first priority, you must be educated. You can’t really be in any position in this country if you are not educated. If you do not go to school, you can easily be marginalized.

E: It is really good to be educated, because when you are educated you can do anything. It’s better to undergo some stress and study than tomorrow you don’t have any future. The one thing I like about education is that it’s yours, you die with it. No one has to take it from you.

What kind of reasons lead to school dropout in Sierra Leone?

D: Some of my friends don’t go to school because of one reason or the other. Their parents don’t have money, they are suffering. Some don’t even have money to pay school fees. There are parents who cannot give their children books and pens, and they do not go to school because of that.
Some are just 15 years of age and they say they are too big to go to school. Some are riding a motorbike as a way to find a living. Some have given birth to children, so they are not going to school. Early pregnancy is one reason.

”The one thing I like about education is that it’s yours, you die with it. No one has to take it from you.”

– Edlyn

Who should go to school?

D: Some people say school is not meant for ladies, that ladies should stay at home cooking or ready to get married. Me, I’m against that. School is meant for both ladies and men. We are all supposed to go to school. If your wife is educated, you are educated, things are more simple, your wife will bring, you will bring, you put it together, then you get through.

What kind of opportunities do girls have for going to school?

E: In the provinces it’s only in these days that girls are allowed to go to school. The only thing is that you have to stay home, help your parents, and at the end of the day, if a man says that he wants to marry you at an early age of twelve, you have to go there. So their rights are not really, really expressed down there. You are forced into adult stage when you’re not really meant for it, and it’s not fair.

How does the future look for the youth of Sierra Leone?

D: Sierra Leonean youths, they are really trying. There is a saying that says: Winners don’t quit and quitters don’t win. So I don’t want them to quit. I want them to reinforce and to persevere all that they are going through. Another future there is waiting for them.

E: The civil war was bad, but we have to put aside those things. Those days are gone. Now what we should face is on building our country which is Sierra Leone. We need to renovate some things. Sierra Leone was not always like this. It was known as the Athens of West Africa. It could still be the Athens of West Africa, so the youths really had to come together, walk hand in hand and make sure that they build a developed country.