Sierra Leone education to be boosted by new US$66m multi-donor trust fund

SIERRA LEONE – Efforts to achieve universal access to education in Sierra Leone have been boosted by the recent launch of a education project and the signing of a new US$66 million multi-donor education trust fund.

The education project was recently launched by Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and at an event officiated by the country’s His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio.

 H.E President Dr Julius Maada Bio also signed a US$ 66 Million 5-year Multi-Donor Trust Fund which is being financed by a number of international donors.

Donors for the education trust fund include the World Bank, Irish Aid, Foreign and Commonwealth Office and the European Union, EU.

President Bio during the launch of the education project emphasised that the education trust fund and other programmes would develop and strengthen the country’s education system.

Speaking at the event, The World Bank Country Manager, Gayle Martin, said they were happy to celebrate the first day of the start of the new school term with the launching of the Sierra Leone Education Project.

According to Martin, Education is the single-most important determinant of economic mobility and the importance of investing in education cannot be overemphasised.

She noted that with Government’s flagship Free Quality Education Programme, the project would be a five-year support to primary and secondary education nationwide.

She explained that the education trust fund particularly aimed to improve the management of the education system, teaching practice and learning conditions.

“The World Bank congratulates the efforts of the government of Sierra Leone and the leadership of President Bio in placing education and human capital development, more generally, at the centre of the national development agenda.”

Gayle Martin – World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone

Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Dr Moinina David Sengeh, said that the event showed a celebration of the education sector as they witnessed the formal kick-off of the Free Education Project.

He recalled that when he took up office the first challenge was to restructure the ministry so that it could absorb resources, engage partners and deliver education services to all children.

He also noted that he had to spear head efforts to digitalize the ministry through technology that would help do work better; help school leaders lead better, help teacher teach better and also help pupils to learn better.

Dr Sengeh further stated that regardless of the many challenges the world had faced, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the ministry recorded many gains, adding that they would continue to work and consult with partners, children, civil society and the private sector.

In 2018, President Bio launched the Free Quality Education in Sierra Leone (FQSE) to completely transform the education sector in the country and make it accessible for all.

Under FQSE the burden of paying school fees was transferred from parents and guardians to the government particularly at the pre-primary, primary, junior and senior secondary school levels.

The government now gives all public schools subsidies to help them run smoothly.

The subsidies are substitutions for school fees, furniture, expansion of school infrastructure, and provision of school amenities such as toilet, water and sanitation facilities.

Since inception of FQSE, there has been a surge in the enrollment of pupils in schools throughout the country.

All Sierra Leonean children regardless of their physical, intellectual and socio-economic conditions now have equal access to free quality school education in Sierra Leone.

The project however comes at a huge cost for a relatively poor third country but the current administration in partnership with development partners has been able to successfully keep it a float for the third year now.

Its important to note that donation from development partners such as the World Bank and the European Union has been key to keeping FQSE alive in Sierra Leone and the latest contribution will further ensure that the project is sustained in the near future.

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