Desmond Lim, an International Development Masters student from the Univerity of East Anglia, Norwich, spent three weeks in Sierra Leone in June 2016, studying the Betteh Tumara Vocational Training programme in Freetown.  Desmond’s particular research focus was on the role and value of literacy in vocational training and undertaking.

During his placement, Desmond interviewed trainers, held focus groups with students, visited trainees on their work placements and spent time with other stakeholders of the Betteh Tumara programme, and has shared some of his initial impressions:

  • Students reported on the positive impact that the programme is having in their lives, stating that it is giving them a ‘better tomorrow’
  • When students were asked why they joined the Betteh Tumara programme, they said they did not want to be ‘idle’ any longer.  It seems that having a sense of purpose is very important to those who engage on the programme
  • Desmond discovered that students were learning much more than vocational skills.  The life skills training plays a very important part of the course and students frequently reported that it really helped them to manage stress in the workplace
  • A key ingredient to the students’ learning success is their strong sense of motivation and determination

This research will form part of Desmond’s post-graduate dissertation, and an external evaluation of the impact of the programme, to be shared in due course.