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Project information

Learning Circles for Rural Women in Sierra Leone

To provide Non-Formal Basic Education & Functional Literacy for rural women & teenage girls who have had little or no schooling & empower them to have more control over their lives and a more powerful voice in their community. Focus on villages in Bombali & Koinadugu, two of the poorest districts.

November 2018 - October 2019

Charity information: Grassroots Action (formerly Powerful Information)

Grassroots Action (formerly Powerful Information) logo
  • Need


    As a result of conflict, poverty, early pregnancy or parental discrimination >90% of rural women in Sierra Leone cannot read, write or count; they don’t know their rights and are vulnerable to exploitation & abuse. Everyday life is challenging — growing food, understanding forms, signing their name or handling money are all difficult without education or training; having to care for others with little or no understanding of hygiene, childcare or family planning.


    We will support learning circles in 15 villages with regular lessons/skills-training. A typical circle comprises 25-45 women & meets 3 times a week. It is run by a facilitator (local teacher), recruited, trained & managed by a trusted local partner. We provide equipment, stationery, light, and facilitators’ allowances, and we work with partners to monitor & report on learners’ progress with reading & writing, and their understanding of hygiene, nutrition, sexual health, legal rights, etc.

  • Aims

    Aim 1

    Enable 400+ rural women to read, write & count, and understand basic healthcare and their rights


    » Hold Women's Learning Circle (WLC) sessions 2-3 times per week to facilitate learning of the subjects withing a pre-arranged programme.
    » The partner organisation will monitor the activities of the WLC including attendance, facilitation, learning and adherance to the programme.

    What success will look like

    At the year end test learners’ ability to communicate, write their name, read simple words & count, and their understanding of key aspects of the course.

  • Impact


    The benefits of education include: increased confidence/raised self-esteem; better hygiene & nutrition at home; mothers sending their children to school (rather than the fields); more peace in the family (because people are better able to communicate); petty traders able to count money & calculate when transactions will make a profit; women wanting to take on more responsibilities in the community, and even running for office in the local council. We will prepare case studies to show examples.


    Possible risks include loss of key local personnel, or failure of their CBOs (EFW & GEDEW) because of lack of resources (if we/they cannot raise sufficient money). We are in regular contact with our partners to identify problems at an early stage to minimise any impact.
    A recurrence of Ebola would affect the project but our learners have been schooled on the precautions to take to prevent infections.


    We will produce an illustrated report at the end of the year (with a breakdown of expenditure) and circulate it electronically to all those requesting copies. We will also post updates on our website and Facebook.

  • Budget

    Budget - Project Cost: £16,000

    Loading graph....
      Amount Heading Description
      £6,650 Education Holding weekly sessions of WLC
      £1,600 Outreach & Communication 2 Radio programmes, email and internet
      £1,250 Capacity Building Suport to partner organisations
      £3,200 Monitoring & Evaluation Visits by partner to WLC and reporting
      £1,000 Registration & Accounts For partner organisations
      £2,300 Office Costs Including 2 partner organisations

    Current Funding / Pledges

    Source Amount
    Private Donor £6,000 Guaranteed
  • Background


    Villages around Makeni (in Bombali) and around Kabala (in Koinadugu) in the north of Sierra Leone.


    400+ women subsistence farmers & petty traders in Bombali & Koinadugu and their families — women & girls who have had little or no formal education. Two community-based organisations (EFW & GEDEW) and their facilitators (~20 people), and 15 communities which benefit in so many ways, not least from having more aware and empowered women in their midst. (A small number of men are allowed to join the women’s learning circles. This helps build understanding between the sexes and also respect.)

  • Why Us?

    Why Us?

    Grassroots Action works with local partners to empower communities with the information, understanding & means to tackle poverty & promote good health & sustainable livelihoods. We build social capital, promote social justice & raise environmental awareness. Since 1990 we have resourced >100 grassroots projects; helped bring education to >3,000 rural women; and set up seed banks to increase food security for them. Partners GEDEW & EFW have been running women’s learning circles for ~10 years.

    Read more about the Charity running this project.


    Fatmata Sesay

    Fatmata is the Director of GEDEW and will be responsible for the monitoring and evaluation of the WLC and reporting to us.

    Daniel Thoronka

    EFW's Project Leader, is blind and is assisted by Aminata Kargbo. They are responsible for monitoring and evaluation of the WLC and reporting to us.

    Jill Chinn

    Executive Officer of Grassroots Action responsible for the project and its finances; holding partners to account and reporting to funders.