Child champions speak to fellow children on the Back to School campaign
From the 8th to the 13th November, Save the Children and partners in the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) NGO Consortium, supported a two-weeklong child-led media activities; part of a national Back to School campaign launched in September to promote access to safe, inclusive learning for all children. A total of four live programs and eight repeat broadcasts were done over a period of two weeks.
Led by three girls and two boys acting as child champions from Children’s Forum Network and beneficiaries from projects in Freetown, the champions raised public awareness on the impact of COVID-19 on education and the strides government and partners have made in line with the radical inclusion policy to ensure all children; pregnant girls, vulnerable and disabled children, access education in a safe equitable learning environment.
Champions shared their hopes for revitalized education following fear that arose with the news of the first confirmed COVID-19 case in Sierra Leone in March 2020 and the school closures that ensued. For Marie one of the Champions, it brought back painful memories.
“I thought all was lost for girls again. It was in the time of Ebola that I got pregnant and dropped out of school.” It is because of this experience that Marie joined her fellow champions to advocate for the return to school for all children including teen mothers as the government have now launched a new Radical Inclusion Policy which promotes the return to school for pregnant girls and teen mothers. The NGO Consortium is scaling similar activities across 561 communities to ensure that children do not meet fate similar to Marie in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Back to school campaign is being conducted in communities across the country reaching both children and parents.
To make the back to school messages resonate with more children, the child champions also used the two-week long media engagements to share words of encouragement and hope to children as well as pass on recommendations to government, parents and communities to make sure schools are safe, encouraged parents to make sure their children go to school and for children to make good use of the free quality education initiative as the best opportunity in their lives for empowerment and development.