A loan of $3,200 helped a member to buy building materials such as cements and rods and to pay laborers.


Ahmadiyya Secondary School Group's story

The members of this loan group are all teachers at the Ahmadiyya Secondary School in Makeni. The school was founded in 1984 by the Ahmadiyya Mission. Today, it has a total of 364 pupils with a staff of 10 teachers. The school carries a lot of pride for its ability to resurrect itself from the ruins of the civil war to become one of the most enviable schools in town.

This is the second time teachers from Ahmadiyya have received a loan from SMT. The previous loan was a great success to the first borrowers, hence three more staff have decided to join their colleagues this time around to borrow from SMT. Hawanatu S., for example, was able to start a small business using the previous loan. Today, her business serves as a supplementary source of income to her. Pa L. invested his money in agriculture and this has also served as an additional source of income to him outside of the classroom.

Fifty-one year old Naziru C. (on the left in the photo) is the principal at the school. He was born in Taiama, in the Moyamba district in southern Sierra Leone. He is married with five children. Two of the children are in junior secondary school, two are in senior secondary school and one is in college. His wife is also currently studying at the university. Naziru will use his loan to purchase house building materials, specifically cement for bricks and iron rods. He’ll also hire four or five laborers to do the work. He wants to build an apartment adjacent to his home consisting of two rooms and a parlor. Naziru travels to Freetown every weekend where his family resides. He’ll purchase the building materials there where the prices are lower relative to Makeni. A bag of cement, for example, will cost him 35,000 Leones (about USD$11.50) versus 45,000 to 50,000 in Makeni.

Government salaries are usually quite small for teachers, thus making teaching an unattractive profession for many whose primary motivation is money. Many choose other jobs over teaching because of the small salary, thus starving the field of qualified personnel to teach the children. The few who remain in the classroom have to find other ways of making ends meet. The vast majority of them engage in either business or agriculture or they provide extra tutorial classes for the children (although this is a practice the government is trying to stop). Needless to say, loans from SMT are a great help to the teachers in order to boost their businesses or invest in something productive. Many want to do more schooling, but cannot afford the cost. Some want to buy pieces of furniture, but their monthly salary is not enough to let them do so. With a loan, they will be able to meet some of these needs. And with their monthly salaries, they can easily repay the loan via a payroll deduction type of system.

In 2003, after the rebel forces left the town, Ahmadiyya school could only boast of having five teachers, thus making the school’s performance on national exams very poor. But with the intervention of the new principal, Naziru C., Ahmadiyya today has a total of 10 staff. In last year’s national exams (also known as BECE – Basic Education Certification Examination) the school had two pupils who obtained some of the highest marks on the exams. This was a clear statement to bigger schools whose pupils could not score such high grades.

In the sporting arena, Ahamdiyya Secondary School is the current holder of the soccer competition trophy organized by the Ministry of Education, Youths and Sports for Junior Secondary Schools. They defeated the AL-Harrkan Secondary School. Because of all their hard work and dedication to both academics and extra-curricular activities, the school was upgraded to a senior secondary school by the Ministry of Education last academic year.

In this group: Naziru, Victor U., Hawanatu, Leslie M., Momoh E., Martin A., Daimba A., Alimamy H.s*, Abdul D.
*not pictured



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Loan details