A Tale of Two Schooling Systems: Contrasting Experiences from Sierra Leone to America

I was fortunate enough to be from a family that is not all from America. My dad was born and raised in Washington DC and he says it was a challenge. That there was a lot of adversity and that the education system wasn’t the best. My mother is from Sierra Leone, a country in West Africa, and she and her 3 older brothers and one little sister lived with my grandmother. They all moved to America at different times, but my mom left at age 12. I asked my mom if she could tell me the differences she noticed from schooling in Sierra Leone versus the States, but she told me that she was too young to remember and recall school in Sierra Leone. So she told me to text my Uncle Malcolm and ask him since he left for America at an older age. I asked Uncle Malcolm about the differences and he told me that corporal punishment was a regular thing in school back in Sierra Leone, as in you could be caned for anything from poor grades to poor conduct or violation of school rules or indiscipline. He also says respect was expected not only of teachers but also of upperclassmen and prefects. The other main difference he says, is grading was done strictly on percentages with no such thing as A, B, C, etc. The students were ranked based on percentages with the highest score ranking 1st regardless of percentage. So for instance you could have a 70 or 80 % in a class but as long as you were 1st you were great, so they got graded on the curve similar to what Uncle Malcolm later experienced in the highly competitive engineering classes at Georgia Tech. Finally, the other big difference was that they didn’t have things like school lunches or a cafeteria so your parents either packed your lunch in the younger grades or later in the high school level your parents would give you lunch allowance money that would be used to buy food from local vendors that sold food at lunchtime. Uncle Malcolm got lucky because my grandpa Claude would give my uncle Bradley and him enough money for lunch so that they could have enough left over to buy beer for their friends at the nightclubs that we had no business going to during the weekends.




Wan Tale bɔt Tu Skul Sistɛm: Kɔntrast Ɛkspiriɛns frɔm Siera Liɔn to Amɛrika


A bin laki fɔ kɔmɔt na famili we nɔto ɔlman kɔmɔt na Amɛrika. mi papa bohn en rayz na Washington DC en i se na bin chalenj. Dat bɔku prɔblɛm bin de ɛn di edyukeshɔn sistɛm nɔto di bɛst. Mi mama kɔmɔt na Siera Liɔn, we na wan kɔntri na Wɛst Afrika, ɛn in ɛn in 3 big brɔda dɛn ɛn wan smɔl sista bin de wit mi grani. Dɛn ɔl bin muf go na Amɛrika difrɛn tɛm, bɔt mi mama bin kɔmɔt de we i ol 12. A aks mi mama if i go ebul fɔ tɛl mi di difrɛns we i notis we i bin de go skul na Siera Liɔn ɛn di Stet, bɔt i tɛl mi se i tu yɔŋ fɔ mɛmba ɛn mɛmba skul na Siera Liɔn. So i tɛl mi fɔ teks mi Ɔnkul Malkɔm ɛn aks am bikɔs i dɔn kɔmɔt na Amɛrika we i dɔn ol. A aks Ɔnkul Malkɔm bɔt di difrɛns ɛn i tɛl mi se fɔ pɔnish pɔsin wit bɔdi na tin we kin apin ɔltɛm na skul bak na Siera Liɔn, as in yu kin ken fɔ ɛnitin frɔm we yu nɔ gɛt gred to we yu nɔ de biev fayn ɔ we yu nɔ fala di lɔ dɛn na skul ɔ we yu nɔ gɛt disiplin. I se bak se dɛn nɔ bin jɔs de op fɔ rɛspɛkt frɔm ticha dɛn bɔt dɛn bin de op fɔ rɛspɛkt ɔpa klasman dɛn ɛn prɛfɛkt dɛn bak. Di ɔda men difrɛns we i se, na we dɛn bin de gred strikt wan pan pasɛnt we nɔ gɛt ɛnitin lɛk A, B, C, ɛn ɔda tin dɛn.Dɛn bin rank di studɛnt dɛn bay pasɛnt we gɛt di ays mak we de rank 1st ilɛksɛf na pasɛnt. So fɔ ɛgzampul yu kin gɛt 70 ɔ 80 % na wan klas bɔt as lɔng as yu bin de 1st yu bin fayn, so dɛn bin gɛt gred na di kɔv we fiba wetin Ɔnkul Malkɔm leta ɛkspiriɛns na di ayli kɔmpitishɔn injinɛri klas dɛn na Jojia Tek. Fɔ dɔn, di ɔda big difrɛns na dat dɛn nɔ bin gɛt tin dɛn lɛk skul lanch ɔ kafeteria so yu mama ɛn papa kin ɔl tu pak yu lanch na di yɔŋ gred ɔ leta na di ay skul lɛvul yu mama ɛn papa go gi yu lanch alawɛns mɔni we dɛn go yuz fɔ bay it frɔm lokal vendor dɛn we bin de sɛl it na lanch tɛm. Ɔnkul Malkɔm bin gɛt laki bikɔs mi granpa Klɔd bin de gi mi ɔnkul Bradli ɛn am inof mɔni fɔ it lɛnch so dat dɛn go gɛt inof mɔni fɔ bay bia fɔ dɛn padi dɛn na di nayt klab dɛn we wi nɔ bin gɛt biznɛs fɔ go insay di wikɛnd.


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