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Miriam Mason-Sesay

Sierra Leone


Bio

Miriam trained as a teacher at Cambridge and taught in the UK for eight years before visiting Sierra Leone – at that time the poorest country in the world. She was moved to relocate there and open a school for vulnerable children: ex-combatants, orphans and child-mothers. EducAid Sierra Leone, her nonprofit, started with twenty children and now educates over 2,500 students across nine primary and secondary schools. Due to a high emphasis on equality the participation rate of girls in secondary school is double the Sierra Leone average. Miriam leads a teaching team of 150, two thirds of whom are past pupils.

Miriam has devised innovative programmes for all subjects, and her students achieve the highest pass rates in the country in public exams. In Sierra Leone there is a national pass rate in maths of 3.5% at senior level – at EducAid it is 100%. Instead of following the standard rote learning approach, Miriam’s schools promote independent study, and focus on literacy and numeracy as the foundation for all other learning. Expected to reach international standards, students work at their own pace through pre-prepared materials and the teachers serve as facilitators, mentors and guides.

The schools teach citizenship as well as academic subjects and require regular community service. During the Ebola outbreak, their Remote Learning Program created 200 podcast lessons and distributed them via motorbike to students and other teachers, using USB sticks with rechargeable radios.

In recognition of her achievements Miriam received an MBE in 2013 and the World of Children Education award in 2015.

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