CESO and the Ivor Leigh Memorial School


Who are we?


We are a UK based charity  running a school in Kaningo, Sierra Leone. The end of the 11 year Civil War in Sierra Leone in 2002 saw families displaced and children orphaned. Many fled to the remote Kaningo area for safety but there were no facilities available to educate children and the government was unable to help. The local community was and is still extremely impoverished and the children are often underfed.


Ivor Leigh Memorial School: A Family’s Vision


The ILMS, a nursery and primary school in Sierra Leone, was initiated by Ivor Leigh, a Sierra Leonean living in Kaningo. Tragically, he died  before his dream of building a school could be realised.


His family and his sister Rita Edmond, who lives in the UK, vowed to continue his work and in 2006 the Ivor Leigh Memorial School was set up in Kaningo, in a temporary structure made of tarpaulin and corrugated iron, teaching children aged 3-13 a primary education programme. The numbers grew until there were around 300 children being taught there. The situation was far from ideal, as the school was unusable in the rainy season – a permanent building was required.


CESO was set up as a Registered Charity in 2009, enabling us to access a range of fundraising opportunities to support the school.


We were fortunate in securing the help of the Architecture and Spatial Design department of the London Metropolitan University to oversee the building project, providing volunteer architects for the design. With the help of grants and donations from our loyal supporters finally, the new school building opened in September 2011, a place to be safe and learn.



Kaningo, Sierra Leone


Today Kaningo is regarded as an outer district of Freetown, but it remains relatively isolated due to its location in hilly terrain. Access is difficult on rough unmade roads, the area lacks water services and the electricity supply can be uncertain. Although the decade long civil war ended in 2002 its destructive impact is still apparent in a country where, despite its potential wealth, many of its people live in poverty, literacy levels are low and youth unemployment high. 

The recent Ebola crisis has compounded the difficulties faced by the community.


 CESO owns the premises and the land on which the school is built. The CESO trustees share a joint and equal responsibility to work in accordance with UK charity law to manage the charity in line with its principal objectives of promoting the delivery and development of self financing and sustainable learning for nursery and primary aged children and supporting the development and community centred activities from the school premises in Kaningo.


In accordance with legal requirements in Sierra Leone the ILMS is registered as an NGO with SLANGO, MOFED, MSWGCA and the Council. However, the school does not receive funds from the Sierra Leone government and operates as an independent fee paying school, supported by CESO UK.


Locally it is managed by Ivor Leigh Jnr, CESO’s Director in Kaningo, who has day to day responsibility for overseeing the running of the school and the administration of the ILMS budget. Ivor Leigh is a respected community leader and the ILMS functions as a centre for community development work, also supported by CESO UK.






CESO’s partnership with The Vessel UK


The Vessel UK is an international volunteering programme developed by KORI; a Youth focussed charity based in Haringey.  The Vessel’s journey of research and delivery began in 2008 and many young people and adult professionals have volunteered over the nine years it has existed and been supported to work in Tanzania, Kenya and The Gambia. The professional and personal development enabled has been brilliant for all involved and some people have come on several journeys!


The Vessel UK team work closely with UK participants, shaping their skills and passions into projects that match the need assessment and requirements of African youth and their communities. Our current work in Gambia and Sierra Leone is growing through partnership work with SOS Children Villages, Daughter of Africa Foundation and CESO and The Ivor Leigh Memorial School. Each two week trip during Easter and November provides new learning for all involved.


We are keen to work with people of from all backgrounds, offering training and support so that they are able to share their skills successfully where they are both wanted and needed.