In the eastern Sierra Leonean community of Lambayama, rice paddies are carved far into the landscape before being abruptly halted by distant hills. Aside from a paved road that draws a grey line through the green, swampy valley, it looks much as it did a century ago.
Sierra Leone is instituting major reforms to its education system after the country reported some of the poorest academic results in West Africa. It will start with adding an extra year to the end of secondary school beginning in 2013, and nearly doubling daily classroom hours.
Fifty years ago when Sierra Leone gained independence after 150 years of colonial rule, with it came a feeling of optimism that along with a newfound control of its governance, the country would profit from its ample endowment of natural resources, like timber, fish, minerals and oil. Instead, in the last 50 years, the country has had 13 military coups and an 11-year civil war that left the economy in ruins and the country heavily reliant on foreign donor funding.
The launch of Sierra Leone’s first online mining database in West Africa comes with a promise to increase transparency and accountability in the country’s rich natural resource sector.