FEPS Media & Communications Unit: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 27 October 2022:
The Ministry of Basic & Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) has through the Sierra Leone Free Education Project, disbursed the sum of Twenty-Nine Billion Six Hundred and Ninety-Three Million Five Hundred & Twenty Thousand [Old] Leones (Le 29,693,520.00) in the form of Renovation/Maintenance Grants to 538 ‘Government’ and ‘Government-Assisted’ primary schools in all sixteen districts. (Photo above: Dr. Moinina David Sengeh, minister of basic education).
The beneficiary schools comprise Eastern Region (125), Northern Region (134), North-West Region (97), South (123), Western Area Urban (28), and Western Area Rural (31).
The schools were selected based on the data of schools identified with dire maintenance and repair needs that affect their operations as assessed in the 2021 Annual School Census report. Large schools or schools with significant damages received the sum of Sixty-Nine Million Nine Hundred Thousand [Old] Leones (Le 69,900,000.00), equivalent of US$ 5,000 each at the time of disbursement, while smaller schools received Twenty-Seven Million Nine Hundred and Sixty Thousand [Old] Leones (Le 27,960,000.00), equivalent to US$2,000 each.
The renovation/maintenance grants finance the School Improvement Plans (SIPs) prepared by the School Management Committees (SMC) and approved by the Local Councils and MBSSE.
The purpose of the grant is to make the school environment safe, conducive for teaching and learning, and accessible to persons with special needs by improving the school infrastructure.
The Government of Sierra Leone continues to support public schools, including the payment of subsidies and operational costs, provision of basic teaching and learning materials, performance-based financing, and improving infrastructure.
However, these resources are inadequate to cover all the expenses and needs of beneficiary schools, especially the aspect of renovation/maintenance, hence the grant. MBSSE also provides Performance Based Financing (PBF) grants to schools. However, some schools benefiting from the Fund require significant renovation/maintenance works, including replacement of damaged furniture, fixing/replacement of roof panels or floors, or rehabilitation of Water, Hygiene and Sanitation (WASH) facilities.
The School Renovation/Maintenance Grant enhances the pace of these repairs and maintenance and supplements the regular PBF grant. Guidelines for the rational use of the Grant are available in the School Renovation/Maintenance Manual developed by MBSSE in February 2022, on which all School Management Committees (SMCs), including Head Teachers, Local Council Engineers and the Free Education Project Clerks of Works have been trained.
The utilization of the funds is monitored by the Free Education Project Secretariat of the MBSSE, the Local Councils, and the Community. The Government of Sierra Leone Free Education Project / Multi-Donor Trust Fund is implemented by the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education through the Free Education Project Secretariat, with the development objectives to improve management of the educational system, teaching practices and learning conditions.
It is supported by the World Bank (IDA), European Union, Irish Aid, Foreign Commonwealth Development Office, and the Global Partnership for Education.
Author: FEPS Media & Communications Unit