Sierra Leone Children and School

Do the children go to school in Sierra Leone?

The children in Sierra Leone start school at the age of six. They go to primary school for six years, followed by secondary school. After the 9th grade you can graduate. Those who go to school for another three years can graduate with the Abitur. School attendance is compulsory for nine years.

However, few children achieve this goal. Many children do not go to school at all. Although the civil war (see history) has ended for many years, it still has an impact on children’s education. Because during this time many schools were destroyed. 1270 primary schools alone were razed to the ground. It took a long time to rebuild. There was also a lack of teachers.

When the Ebola disease broke out in 2014, this also reduced opportunities for education. Because the schools have been closed so that no one is infected there. Even the children who normally went to school didn’t go there for months.

In addition, there are many problems that lead to children not going to school all over West Africa: The way to the next school is too far, the parents have no money for school uniforms or exercise books, the children are supposed to help their parents at home or even become work skillfully. In Sierra Leone this affects a quarter of all children (see also Children in Sierra Leone). The situation is often even worse for girls. Little attention is paid to their education, they are supposed to help with household chores, get married early and have children.

So it happens that almost half of the adult Sierra Leoneans cannot read or write. After all, the situation has been improving for some time. The schools were rebuilt. In 2004, school fees for primary schools were abolished.

How do the children live in Sierra Leone?

The children in Sierra Leone face many problems. Nevertheless, you can also see a lot of happy children!


More than half of the population in Sierra Leone lives below the poverty line and has less than $ 1.90 a day to live on. Many people don’t have enough to eat. Children in particular are often poorly nourished.


In Sierra Leone, more than three in 100 newborns die, almost eight in 100 one-year-olds and ten in 100 five-year-olds. The five year old mortality rate is the fifth highest in the world! There are many reasons for this: not all of them have clean drinking water and then get sick. A particularly large number of children die from diarrhea. There are also diseases like malaria that kill children.

Child labor

39 percent of the children in Sierra Leone work. These girls and boys mainly work in agriculture, which means they help their parents in the fields or tend cattle. But they are also forced to work on plantations, for example harvesting coffee, cocoa and palm oil. Other children work in mines. There they have to dig for gold and diamonds or haul heavy sacks. Or they look for metal in garbage dumps that they can sell to scrap dealers. Or they sell goods on the street.

Marry young

Another problem is that many girls are married before they are 15 years old. In Sierra Leone, a country located in Africa according to allcountrylist, this affects 13 out of 100 girls. For those who are married at the age of 18, the proportion is even 30 percent.

Street children in Sierra Leone

Many children in Sierra Leone live on the streets. You can find them especially in the capital Freetown. The number here is estimated at 3,000. About 500 of them are girls.

Some of the street children are orphans and have lost one or both parents. There are 310,000 orphans and half-orphans in Sierra Leone. 19,000 of them lost their parents to AIDS. In 2014, many children also lost their parents to Ebola.

Other children have run away from home because they were treated badly there or because there was not enough to eat. Mustafa, for example, says: “I only received one meal a day, which I then had to share with my siblings. I was always hungry.”

The street children usually spend the night under market tables or the canopies of shops. Some have also built small huts in a park. Outside the city centers, they also sleep in broken down cars or unfinished houses. Often they change their sleeping places so that they cannot be found.

Many of the street children use drugs. You smoke or drink alcohol. Tablets are particularly popular. Blue Boots pain reliever is widely available on the street. They forget their fate for a short time with pills or alcohol. They then also become more courageous to steal food, for example. Many of the street children are sick. You have malaria, have a cold, stomach pain or toothache.

Again and again violence is done to street boys. Older street children want to take away the money they begged or their stolen goods or groceries – and then do so by beating the younger children. Often it is even the police who become violent. Some police officers force street children to work for them.

But work is mostly part of their lives for the others too, because they just can’t make a living from stealing. For example, the children clean the entrances to the shops and receive enough money for it that they can buy a piece of bread. They wash plates for the market women, clean tables for restaurant owners or transport goods for other business people. But many also beg for money or food or they steal.

Girls often see prostitution as the only way to survive. Some, like the boys, were also victims of child trafficking. Their parents were promised that the child would be sent to school in Freetown, but instead they would be forced to work. A pimp is usually responsible for their “protection”, with whom the girls can stay overnight and get something to eat. Some girls work in the afternoons for market women or in shops, or they do household chores such as washing or ironing and get something to eat in return.

Sierra Leone Children

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