Even before COVID-19 hit, Sierra Leone was facing a dire human capital situation, as evidenced by its education outcomes, which were among the lowest in the region.
Even before COVID-19 hit, Sierra Leone was facing a dire human capital situation, as evidenced by its education outcomes, which were among the lowest in the region. Based on the World Bank Human Capital Index, children were expected to be 36 percent as productive when growing up as they could be if they enjoyed a complete education and full health. The COVID-19 pandemic caused a crisis within a crisis. In March 2020, all schools closed. Sierra Leone had lived through a similar shock in 2014, when the Ebola crisis led to eight months of school closures. The potential for a prolonged catastrophe was evident. Indeed, the country remembered a time where most children were eating less, learning less, and facing increased violence and exploitation. For example, Ebola left more than 12,000 children orphaned. Girls from the ages of 12–17 were 16 percent less likely to return to school. Child labor by girls also increased by 19 percentage points. In addition, teenage pregnancy increased by up to 65 percent in some communities.
The large number of measures and regulations including lockdowns declared by the government of Sierra Leone to curtail the spread of the virus has led to adverse effects on the life of the population. Most parents have lost their jobs. The people living in remote areas such as Masantigie and its environs have suffered the most as they could not afford to provide food and other basic amenities for their families. Most students don’t et enough. They are likely to be victims of home and community violence and child exploitation. Girls also bear a greater negative cost of increase in sexual abuse.
In conclusion, despite the above challenges that the pandemic has brought to lives here in Sierra Leone as it is the case for most countries around the world, there’s a glimmer of hope as cases have significantly been dwindling. As of May the 14th 2021, the country has only recorded 79 deaths and 7 active new cases. These numbers are disproportionately incomparable to other African countries like South Africa for example. If this trajectory continues, then it’s only a matter of time when Sierra Leone would be completely free of this deadly virus.
Volunteer Country Representative, Sierra Leone Education and Development Trust