Sierra Leone map

Sierra Leone

  • 32.4%
    Adult Literacy Rate*
  • 181 out of 189
    Human Development Index ranking (UN)*
  • 52.2%
    People living on less than $1.90 per day*

Why we work in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone is rebuilding its economy following the long-term repercussions of the devastating civil war and the more recent Ebola crisis, during which nearly 4,000 lives were lost. The Ebola crisis has had a huge impact on children in particular, creating many thousands of orphans and disrupting education services, with all schools closed for an entire academic year to curtail the spread of the disease.

As Sierra Leone develops its infrastructure, the need for relevant, up-to-date books which support children and adults in reaching their full potential is more acute than ever. Poverty levels mean that the majority of people cannot afford books at home. Schools, colleges and universities lack books for their students. Bookshops are almost non-existent.

The official language of Sierra Leone is English, with Krio (a Creole language derived from English) widely spoken. English is also the medium of instruction from the first year of primary school. This means that the books in English that we can send for schools, colleges and public and community libraries are especially useful.

There is also an urgent need for current information on medical and healthcare subjects, on managing infection and on safe practices within communities. The specialist books we can provide from UK medical publishers will support the development of health services in the country.

Our work in Sierra Leone

Working through the Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) as our distribution partner, the brand new books we provide reach public and community libraries, schools, hospitals, prisons and higher education institutions across the country.

Books for all in Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone’s national library service, the Sierra Leone Library Board (SLLB) has 21 branches countrywide. The public library network offers a vital service in Sierra Leone, providing a space where people from all walks of life can read for study, study and life-long learning. Each of the SLLB libraries operates a library outreach service on motorbikes to provide access to books for schools and community groups.

Supporting schools in Sierra Leone

This is a crucial time for education in Sierra Leone as students return to school following the Ebola crisis. Most schools lack books and resources and have no school library. SLLB supports around 100 schools which now benefit from the books we provide. These books encourage pupils to read for pleasure as well as support their studies in all subjects.

We are also working with a number of NGOs with education programmes, including Plan Sierra Leone to support their Girls’ Education Challenge and Ebola Back to School projects, local community-based organisation Save the Needy, which supports 10 of the most deprived schools in Freetown and in Bo and the Practical Tools Initiative, which provides books to schools across the country.

We intend to expand our support for schools as we develop our work in-country.

Inspiring Readers in Sierra Leone

Thousands children in Sierra Leone have books in their classrooms thanks to our Inspiring Readers programme. Inspiring Readers establishes Book Box Libraries full of brand new, carefully selected books in schools where pupils would otherwise share just a few old tattered textbooks. In addition, we train teachers in how to bring those books to life in the classroom and connect each school with a local Children’s Corner where a specially trained librarian can provide on-going support for the school and its pupils. Inspiring Readers in Sierra Leone is funded by players of People’s Postcode Lottery. Find out more about Inspiring Readers

Supporting higher education in Sierra Leone

We provide brand new academic books in a range of disciplines for the University of Sierra Leone (which includes the Institute of Public Administration and the College of Medical and Health Sciences as well as Fourah Bay College), for Njala University and for a number of other tertiary institutions throughout the country.

Books for better health in Sierra Leone

There is an urgent need for update to date medical texts across Sierra Leone, particularly as the country is still recovering following the devastating Ebola crisis. Every year, we provide brand new medical books which are distributed to hospitals and medical colleges across the country. These books allow practising professionals to keep their skills up to date and help educate the next generation of health care providers.


*Stats from Human Development Index 2019


Sierra Leone: Our work 2019


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