The Sierra Leone Adult Education Association (SLADEA) was established in September 1978. It is a non-governmental organisation (NGO) and currently has 13 branches spread across the country’s four administrative regions.
Initially SLADEA focussed largely on adult literacy and numeracy and to this end spearheaded the establishment of literacy classes in many towns. The classes, which were led by well-trained and highly motivated facilitators, attracted many adults and particularly women.
Sierra Leone’s civil conflict (1991-2002) created immense challenges but also opportunities for the advancement of adult education in the country. As a result of the war, many functionally educated adults reverted to illiteracy and after the cessation of hostilities they and many others developed a keen interest in our programmes, which they saw as offering a golden opportunity to emancipate themselves from poverty and ignorance.
The post-war situation has brought a need, especially among women and young people, to learn life skills in order to better their own situation and that of their families. Many women are now family heads, single parents and bread-winners as a result of the death of their husbands and male partners during the war.
Young people face a similar situation. Many were conscripted during the war and thus lost the opportunity to acquire a formal education. They now find themselves unskilled and untrained and therefore unable to find a place in the modern economy. To help these unfortunate young people, SLADEA has opened many Continuing Education Centres (CECs), where young people are provided with training in life skills. Since the end of the war HIV/AIDS, human rights and peace education have also become important components of our adult education curriculum. In this sense SLADEA literacy programmes are conceptualized as a contribution to building a culture of peace in post-war Sierra Leone.
The mission of SLADEA is to reduce the high rate of illiteracy (a major hindrance to social, economic and political progress) among Sierra Leonean adults and to empower them through functional adult education programmes and activities. Ours is an education for self-reliance. Special emphasis is placed on the empowerment of women and young people in order to make them active initiators of and participants in their own developmental process.
We envision a country where every citizen can read and write and therefore enjoy full participation in the development of their communities.