04.04.2024 - von Plan International Switzerland

Eunice & Kumba’s Plan

In Sierra Leone, Plan International is supporting young women to become qualified teachers. Eunice and Kumba took part in the four-year training programme, receiving stipends and mentorship to support their success and remove financial barriers.

After dropping out of school, our programme offered Eunice and Kumba the chance to catch up on the learning they’d missed and get certified as schoolteachers ­ an opportunity most women don’t encounter in rural Sierra Leone. This is their plan to Beat The Clock:

1. Become school teachers.
2. Be a role model for young girls.
3. Change what is expected of girls and women.


When Eunice left school, she was living out a story that’s common for young women in Kailahun, Sierra Leone. “When you become a [school] dropout, you feel very much sad,” she says. “You feel isolated."

Eunice is one of five children in a family she describes as poor. She left school when her mother died in 2019, leaving her as the primary earner for her family. She became a mother herself when she was 18 years old.

In rural Sierra Leone, 75% of girls don’t continue their education after primary school. None of Eunice's siblings went to school. Eunice’s experience was the norm.

In 2021, Eunice was invited to enrol in a four-year Plan International programme that supports out-of-school young women to become teachers. There, she met Kumba, another young single mother at a similar crossroads. Kumba had dropped out of school when her mother fell ill and hadn’t found a way back to the classroom until the programme offered an alternative. 

Eunice, Kumba, and 200 other young women in their cohort had the chance to catch up on the learning they’d missed and get certified as schoolteachers with real-life classroom experience. They were supported with tutors, mentorship, stipends and childcare to help them complete the programme. They worked hard to pursue their certification via distance learning while juggling their other responsibilities.

“A woman's education ends in the kitchen”

In Sierra Leone, only 28% of teachers are female. Yet it's been shown that when girls have women teachers they are more likely to attend school and excel with their studies. They're also more likely to raise their concerns and get the support they need.

“A lot of my friends in the programme had challenges with their husbands at first,” says Eunice. “The men believed that if their wives were educated, it would create competition and marital problems at home.”

Kumba, Eunice, and the other project participants found they were challenging strongly held beliefs about a woman’s place. "People say that a woman's education ends in the kitchen," shares Kumba. "I totally disagree with them all.”

But things are changing and men are becoming more supportive of the women in the programme. “We have to keep talking to the men who are jealous of us. We can show them that when a woman is empowered, she brings the benefits home with her,” says Kumba.

She has also seen a change in her community. “Before, women were not considered when it comes to decision-making.” Now, when people are trying to make decisions, they often seek her out to join the discussion.

Eunice, too, has noticed that her friends come to her for advice and are keen to learn from her experiences. She feels like a changed person from when she dropped out of school. “When you can do something on your own for the future, you feel proud,” she says. “And when a woman is educated, a whole nation can be educated.”

Estimates say it will take more than 130 years for the world to achieve gender equality

but girls and women like Eunice and Kumba are promoting gender equality now, which will help to #BeatTheClock. 

  • Less than 50% of students in Sierra Leone can write their name by the time they are in the 4th grade.
  • Only 16% of children meet the expected level of literacy for their grade. 
  • While 82% of children enroll in primary school, only 36% make it to secondary school. This number drops to 18% for completion of secondary school, the majority of which are students living in urban areas.
  • 20% of teenage girls are pregnant or have given birth. 
  • 40% of women are married by the age 18. 
  • Out of 83,000 teachers in Sierra Leone, only 28% are female. That means many girls don’t have role models or advocates in their classrooms.


  • Kumba and Eunice were supported by Plan International’s four-year Teacher Training for Inclusive Girls’ Education (TTIGE) project in Sierra Leone.
  • For the six-week in-person training portions of the certification course, Plan International helped set up a daycare so the trainees could bring their children with them and still focus on their studies.
  • More than 700 women have completed Plan International’s teacher training programme since 2014.
  • In addition to equipping them with in-class teaching experience, the programme increases their success when they’re officially qualifying for teacher certification. The national average pass rate on the final certification exam is 67%. For women who complete Plan’s training, the pass rate is 81%.
  • Today, 65% of the women who completed the programme are working teachers.