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This is an Open Educational Resource (OER) and all the content on this site is shared under a Creative Commons open license. It is aimed at health professionals, teachers and learners  wishing to learn about sickle cell anaemia from social science and scientific perspectives. The content created by students, academics, biomedical scientists, nurses and researchers illustrates the multidiscipline nature of this project, so hopefully there is something here for everyone.

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This project was funded by the HEFCE Open Educational Resource Programme (#ukoer) in 2009, and is still maintained to this day by @vivienrolfe

Sikul Sel Song – by pupils from a Sierra Leone school

SIKUL SEL by Sam Macauley

In 2017, Dr Maria Berghs, a colleague of Professor Simon Dyson at De Montfort University, went to Sierra Leone in 2017 and got their ‘Guide to School Policy‘ adapted to the local context. (The guide is also available in many other languages).

Whilst there someone took the guide, wrote a sickle cell song about it in KRIO (Creole), and the people involved have now all agreed to share this wonderful music through a Creative Commons License.

The lyrics and song

Here are the lyrics to SIKUL SEL by Sam Macauley so you can join in!

Sikul sel na blod siknes
We Mamie en Dadi kingina bele
No fred se yu go get am,
Bot epam fo liv in yon layf

And most importantly, you can click here to hear the fabulous song.

Or click on this link to download the .WMA file. SIKUL SEL Song Sierra Leone

The star performers!

The performance involved the following people:

The Sierra Leone Sickle Cell Disease Society – Amelia Eva Gabba and Annie Sesay. The wonderful singing was provided by the Methodist Girls High School, Freetown, with Edwina Kamara (teacher) and pupils Fatmata Kargbo, Haja Fatmata Sesay, Vicresa Momoh, Fanta Kabba, Lina Kanu,Tushiatu Bangura, Jessica Johnson, Francess Kamara, Naizmiyeh Turay, Fatmata Mansaray and Tenneh Samura.
We thank everyone involved for their wonderful musical creation.

Sierra Leonean approach to sickle cell in schools

Sickle Cell in Schools: Work in Freetown, Sierra Leone, West Africa

A guide to school policy for Sierra Leone has just been released.

In the UK researchers at De Montfort University have examined the lack of care for young people with sickle cell disorder (SCD) at school (Dyson et al, 2010a, 2010b, 2011). This has resulted in the publication of a Guide to School Policy on Sickle Cell. The guide is aimed not primarily at classroom teachers (though they would be very welcome to make use of it) but at those with a broader responsibility. It is written with the following kinds of people in mind: the lead teacher for young people with a medical condition; heads of school year or those responsible for pastoral care in school; school nurses; heads of school nursing; local authority school advisors; school governors, or ministry of education officials. In short it is aimed at those who can influence how schools respond to young people with sickle cell disorder (SCD).

Working with a Newton Fund grant, early career research fellow at De Montfort University Dr Maria Berghs has collaborated with the Sierra Leone Sickle Cell Society led by Dr George Tregson-Roberts and Amelia Gabba, together with colleagues in Helen Keller International and schools in the Sierra Leonean capital, Freetown, to adapt the guide to the context in Sierra Leone.

In Sierra Leone, children are legally required to attend six years of primary school and three years of junior secondary school until they are 15 years old. This consists of the basic education that each citizen is entitled to have according to the 2004 Education Act. The 2004 Education Act stipulates that there should be no discrimination which could prevent a child in attaining this basic education. The 2007 Child’s Rights Act also states that children are entitled to basic education. An important part of school inclusiveness is recognising the importance of offering care to young people with long standing illness, particularly since a major part of childhood is spent in attending school. The duty on ensuring inclusiveness in school falls to the school authorities who must make arrangements for supporting pupils at school with medical conditions. Pupils with sickle cell disorder fall under this legislation and guidance. In a resource-poor, post-conflict, and post-Ebola country, like Sierra Leone, there are additional constraints facing children living with serious health conditions accessing not only school but also health services. The country’s educational sector was badly affected by a ten year civil war (1991-2002) and the world’s most serious Ebola epidemic (2014-2016). The educational sector is rebuilding but there is a dire shortage of teachers and school facilities. When we think of inclusiveness, the 2006 United Nations Convention on the Rights for Persons with Disabilities is also applicable and school authorities are responsible for ensuring inclusion of a child with health condition who may further have acquired or been born with an impairment. We therefore hope that this new guide to school policy for sickle cell will help all schools in Sierra Leone to better support young people with sickle cell at school.

Guide to school policy in Sierra Leone
CC-BY-SA Sierra Leone Sickle Cell Society et al

The Guide to School Policy that has been adapted by the Sierra Leone Sickle Cell Society and colleagues in Freetown, Sierra Leone


Sierra Leone
Credit: United Nations Office for the Co-ordination of Humanitarian Affairs



Dyson, SM; Atkin, K; Culley, LA; Dyson, SE; and Evans, H (2011) Sickle cell, habitual dyspositions and fragile dispositions: young people with sickle cell at school Sociology of Health and Illness 33 (3): 465-483 [ISSN: 0141-9889] http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/j.1467-9566.2010.01301.x/full

Dyson, SM; Atkin, K; Culley, LA; Dyson, SE; Evans, H and Rowley, DT (2010a) Disclosure and sickle cell disorder: a mixed methods study of the young person with sickle cell at school Social Science and Medicine 70 (12) 2036-2044. [ISSN: 0277-9536] http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.socscimed.2010.03.010

Dyson, SM; Abuateya, H; Atkin, K; Culley, LA; Dyson, SE; and Rowley, DT (2010b) Reported school experiences of young people living with sickle cell disorder in England British Educational Research Journal 36 (1): 125-142 [ISSN 0141-1926] http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01411920902878941


Guide for schools Sierra Leonean approach

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Content Author:
Professor Simon Dyson

Healthcare professionals, teachers, policy makers, families

OER Features:

SCOOTEROER114b_Simon Dyson Guide for Schools_11April17 (PDF)

SCOOTEROER114a_Simon Dyson Guide for Schools_11April17 (Word doc)

OER Description:

On this page you can find a Sierra Leonean version of Professor Simon Dyson’s ‘Guide to school policy for young people with sickle cell disease‘, the second version of which was released in 2016.

More details to the background of the work in Sierra Leone can be found on a second blog post here. The SCOOTER project would like to reflect here our thanks to all of those mentioned in the guide who helped produced this vital adaptation.

We would like to thank the following for their work in producing this adaptation of the Guide to School Policy:

Parents, caregivers and young people with sickle cell, Sierra Leone Sickle Cell Disease Society Amelia Eva Gabba, Sierra Leone Sickle Cell Disease Society
Tamba P. Kellie, Sierra Leone Grammar School
Benson A. Sesay, Freetown Secondary School for Girls

Samuel O. Macauley, Milton Margai College of Education and Technology Samuel I. Bangura, Helen Keller International, Freetown
Osman Kamara, Helen Keller International, Freetown
Annie Sesay, Sierra Leone Sickle Cell Disease Society

Cassandra Leigh, Sierra Leone Sickle Cell Disease Society
Iyamide Thomas, GT Consultancy and UK Sickle Cell Society
Maria Berghs, De Montfort University, UK
Students and staff at Sierra Leone Grammar School, Freetown Secondary School for Girls, and the Methodist Girls High School

A blog post by Simon Dyson explaining the production of this guide can be read here.

Version 2 of the Guide to school policy – blog post

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Sickle Cell: A Guide to School Policy Second Edition

Download the resource here

To mark the United Nations International Sickle Cell Day on June 19th, we are pleased to announce the launch of a second edition of the popular Guide to School Policy for Sickle Cell. Sickle cell disease (SCD) is one of the most common genetic conditions in the world, and affects 1 in every 2,000 children born in England (1 in every 600 in London). And yet many people have still to even hear about the condition, and even where it is known about, it is a condition that is widely misunderstood, and not given the recognition it deserves.

The initial guide was developed on the basis of research evidence from a project funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and led by Simon Dyson of De Montfort University. The research findings were published in the journal Social Science and Medicine and suggested that raising teacher awareness of sickle cell disease (SCD) was, by itself, insufficient to lead to good support for students with sickle cell whilst they are at school. What was required was the implementation of policy that created strong support structures in the background, without drawing attention to young people with SCD as different from their peers, something the young people themselves intensely disliked. Since the first edition of the guide was launched in England in 2011, it has been adapted and translated into Yoruba, Hausa and Igbo for use in Nigeria, and into Portuguese for use in Brazil. It has even been credited with influencing the prestigious Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the USA to develop their guide to supporting pupils with sickle cell disease at school in the USA.

One reason for the development of a second edition is the introduction, in the UK, of the Children and Families Act of 2014. Section 100 of this act places a particular duty on governing bodies to makes provision for pupils with medical conditions such as SCD disease, and requires pupils to have education, health and care plans, something for which there was already a model in the first edition of the guide.

The guide has already proved its worth and in May 2016 a BBC Radio 4 Appeal by Malorie Blackman on behalf of the Sickle Cell Society specifically mentions the case of a mother Jacqueline who was concerned about the treatment of her son with SCD Joseph at school, and who used the guide to school policy to advocate on behalf of her son to the teachers at school. We hope that head teachers and school governors find the guide useful, and that it leads to continuing improvements in the way that young people with SCD are integrated into school.