students impacted

by Reading Sierra Leone


teachers trained

on effective, child-centered strategies to promote literacy in their classrooms



supported through teacher development and provision of reading materials

Located in West Africa, Sierra Leone has been known for its wealth of natural resources, including diamonds and gold. Despite this wealth, over 60% of its population lives in poverty (UNDP 2015).

Poverty has had a variety of impacts on education in Sierra Leone. There have been successes in the number of children completing school, which has steadily risen since 2000. However, in 2010, still only 76% of enrolled students were completing their primary education (Government of Sierra Leone 2013).   Additionally, children from the poorest communities cannot regularly access primary school, causing them to fall behind. Many children enter primary school late – in 2010, 40% of Grade 1 entrants were above 7 years of age (Government of Sierra Leone 2013). This results in large primary classrooms, where students are significantly varied in age.

With such barriers to education, it is important that high quality learning materials and effectively trained teachers are available to students in the most marginalized schools and communities.

About Reading Sierra Leone

Through Reading Sierra Leone, CODE and its local partner, PEN Sierra Leone, want to improve the learning outcomes of primary school children in the Port Loko District by ensuring that they have access locally-developed high-quality supplementary reading materials at school and that their educators are skilled and have the capacity to use these materials to enable learners to read, understand and think critically.

So far, 13 original titles have been published in the Reading Sierra Leone collection. These books were the result of professional development workshops for local writers and illustrators, during which they learned how to produce high-quality children's reading materials. The books feature stories that speak to Sierra Leonean children, poetry, as well as informational text on topics such as transportation, food and animals.

The district where CODE works, Port Loko, was one of the areas hardest hit by Ebola. As children transition back to school after several months of being housebound, the Reading Sierra Leone books they will find in their classrooms will help them to catch up on the education they missed during the crisis, but will also provide much-needed entertainment and hope for the future.

Country Stats

Capital: Freetown

Population: 6.092 million

Area: 71,740 km2

GDP (per capita): $12.8 billion

Languages: The official language in Sierra Leone is English, yet there are 22 other spoken languages including Mende, Temne, and Krio.

Literacy Rate: 67.6%

Literacy Rate for Women: 59.3%

Literacy Rate for Men: 75.8%

Out-of-school Rate: 0.7% of school-aged children do not attend school

Where We Work: Port Loko District

Did you Know?

In Sierra Leone, 41.9 percent of the population is just 14 years old or younger – making basic education a priority for the future of the country.

Recent News and Stories

Read the latest news about CODE's efforts in CODE in Sierra Leone.
On War, Stories, and Giving BackNov 17, 2015"My work as an illustrator is so meaningful to me. Drawing stories in the dirt allowed me to escape during a very difficult time in my country’s history....read full article...
Rewriting the Story for Literacy in West AfricaSep 03, 2015When the Ebola crisis hit West Africa, Michael Weah, the Executive Director of CODE’s Liberian partner the WE-CARE Foundation, didn’t ask for surgical masks or a medical outpost. He asked for books. ...read full article...
Back to School in Sierra LeoneSep 02, 20151.8 million children are returning to school in Sierra Leone. For nine months they stayed home in an effort to control the spread of the deadly Ebola Virus which claimed more than 3,950 lives in the country. ...read full article...
Ebola and the Lost Children of Sierra LeoneNov 20, 2014...read full article...


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