Social inclusion and community access to reading and writing

PEN Sierra Leone began their reading and writing programme in 2005 in the aftermath of an eleven year civil war, which caused untold devastation in Sierra Leone, bringing all civil society work virtually to a standstill. Education was among the worst hit with schools and libraries closed or burnt down and school activities disrupted in some parts for several years. PEN Sierra Leone has played a leading role in trying to rebuild reading and writing programmes within education with the view that access to literature and the ability to read and write develops critical thinking, analytical skills, improves well-being, self-confidence, communication skills and provides opportunities for leadership roles in society.

PEN Sierra Leone will build on the success of their school club programme over the past 10 years and will continue to expand their school club activities by engaging club members and related communities in developing their writing, reading, critical thinking and public speaking skills. They will use the after school clubs to engage stakeholders to address burning issues like importance of reading, human rights, freedom of expressions, gender, and other rights issues.

The programme expand to 20 further schools across the country and will consist of literary and debating activities, as well as holding PEN School Clubs Regional Literary Evening events. PEN Sierra Leone will invite policy makers to these events and emphasise the need to strengthen reading and writing programmes in schools as a means of enhancing academic performance.