About Sierra Leone


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Sierra Leone is a small West African country the size of Wales with a population of 6.3 million which has had a long and close association with Great Britain, being founded as a settlement for freed slaves in the 18th century.

Once the centre of West African education, trade and development, 20 years of dictatorship followed by 12 years of the most brutal of civil wars, brought Sierra Leone to such poverty and devastation that it was catalogued by the United Nations as the poorest country in the world with breakdown of all authority and services including medicine and education and bringing life expectancy down to 41.8 years. Its people are only slowly emerging from this chaos and it is with great courage and determination that the people of Waterloo have come together to rebuild their lives and their schools.

The Sierra Leone Civil War resulted in the destruction of 1,270 primary schools, and in 2001, 67% of all school-age children were out of school.  The situation has improved considerably since then, thanks to the reconstruction of many schools since the war.

More recently in 2014 an Ebola virus epidemic struck, which had a widespread impact on the country and compounded their problems. It created a humanitarian crisis situation and heavily impacted economic growth.  Unfortunately staff members and students at the school succumbed.

Like all of Sierra Leone, where subsistence farming is the norm, and those fortunate enough to have paid employment earn less than 1 US$ per day, parents struggle to earn fees for their childrens' education. All schools charge £3 to £5 per term and to earn this amount families fish, grow corn and vegetables, make charcoal, or bamboo mats and collect firewood from the rainforest or break stones and dig sand for building purposes.

About Waterloo

Waterloo is a small township straddling the narrow isthmus that connects the capital of Sierra Leone, Freetown, on the Peninsula, with the interior of the country.

Waterloo suffered greatly during the 12 years of civil war due to its strategic position. Twenty years of dictatorship and the recent civil war had left the country devastated and the Waterloo Schools in a very sorry state. When Sue and Laurie visited the two schools in 2005 they found staff and town houses had been burned down, people driven out or murdered and the schools used as a garrison for the rebel soldiers who had burned desks,chairs and books for their cooking fires and stolen anything useful.

In addition to the devastation of the town and schools thousands of refugees from up country crowded into surrounding camps.  This greatly expanded the township and, as few refugees have returned home, it is difficult to accommodate all these extra children in our schools.

The flooding and landslides near the country’s capital, Freetown, in 2017 forced a migration to Waterloo, further exacerbating the problem of congestion in the classrooms.   An increase in student population to a total of 3061 children (Secondary -1,950, Primary – 1018, Nursery - 93) has had an attendant effect on the general administration of the schools, increased work load on teachers and assistants and shortage of teaching/learning materials.  Some classes in the secondary schools now have 85 pupils or more! and a very obvious consequence is pressure on the furniture.

Kevin McPhillips Travel arranges direct flights to Freetown - www.sierraleonetravel.com

More Information?

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to Contact Us.

More Information?

If you require any further information please do not hesitate to contact us on +44 (0)1386 553891 or you can visit our website at http://www.waterloo-schools.org/ for the latest information.