Amara Bangura moves to the blackboard in a primary school classroom. The students sit attentively as he writes a list on the board titled ‘steps for a good discussion programme’. He explains the process of hosting a successful radio show by outlining six key steps: (1) choose a good subject, (2) research your topic, (3) choose guests for the programme, (4) fairness to contributors, (5) prepare questions, and (6) organise the venue and time.
Amara’s lesson constitutes part of a two-day workshop aimed at introducing the Peace Club initiative to students and school staff. Other topics covered include fair and balanced journalism, storytelling skills, critical thinking, and conflict resolution. Students checked their understanding through practical classroom activities such as mock interviews, group readings, reading comprehension questions, and class discussion. The workshop ended with students evaluating their learning experience.
Peace Club, founded by The Roméo Dallaire Child Soldiers Initiative, had a successful pilot phase in Sierra Leone over the past few years. According to a 2018 Dallaire Initiative report, the Peace Club “impact surveys found significant improvements in how children treat their schoolmates, how they prevent violence in school and the community, and how their attitudes and behaviors are changed to improve safety, advocate for peace, and become leaders.”
Amara Bangura, a Sierra Leonean journalist and Dallaire Initiative Communications Officer, visited Sierra Leone from Canada this week to lead Peace Club meetings around the country. He partnered with local radio stations in three cities—Modcar in Moyamba, Bankasoka in Port Loko, and Mankneh in Makeni. He says the radio stations showed the same level of quality commitment as the schools.
Amara discusses Peace Club’s long-term potential and possible expansion to senior secondary schools—“This depends on donor support, it’s an interesting program and we’d love to sustain it. I realized that teachers as well as students really like the program and they would like us to continue. Besides the insufficient funds to bring onboard more schools, the other challenge is having a local implementing partner. We are working on trying to identify a local organization to lead the implementation in Sierra Leone.”
Amara talks about his move to Canada and his motivations for giving back to Sierra Leone—“I made the decision to move to Nova Scotia with my partner who’s a Canadian. She first got a job there after we left Nigeria where we both worked for nearly 2 years. Also, we wanted to ensure that our 4 year old kid lives in a place where we’ll be assured of quality education. As a Sierra Leonean I understand that my country has very limited opportunities and many sectors including education, health which are terribly broken at the moment. I have always challenged myself that I’ll always support in any way I can.” Amara adds that he wants to help improve the status of his fellow Sierra Leoneans by sharing everything he can, including his knowledge and skills.