Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 November 2020:
Sierra Leone government’s students loan scheme which was proposed by President Julius Maada Bio during his inaugural address in the House of Parliament in 2018, has received overwhelming support across the country, with the latest endorsements coming from opposition leaders in parliament.
The students’ loan scheme committee headed by Mr. Paul Amara is effectively succeeding in uniting Sierra Leone under the students’ loan scheme umbrella, as evident in the unflinching endorsements and anxiousness of Sierra Leoneans across tribes, regions, politics and religious affiliations among others ahead of the establishment of the scheme meant to support access to quality education in Sierra Leone.
Following a successful nationwide survey, soliciting the views of the people on the establishment of the students’ loan scheme, in addition to a regional radio discussion community engagement, the ongoing stakeholders’ consultations have captured the contributions of the stakeholders who have unanimously endorsed the initiative.
This week, the national coordinator met with two major opposition stakeholders in the House of Parliament – Hon. Chernoh Bah (aka Chericoco) of the All People’s Congress (APC) and Hon. Kandeh Yumkella of the National Grand Coalition (NGC).
During the separate meetings, the two opposition leaders expressed unflinching support for the establishment of the scheme that is not only meant to benefit students, but parents and higher education institutions.
Hon. Yumkella (Photo) said that the NGC remains consistent about its interest in quality education. He was however keen to see and study the documents on the structures being put in place to ensure sustainability and equity.
He urged the coordinator and team to embark on intensive nationwide sensitization ahead of the commencement of the scheme. Yumkella called on the committee to safeguard the scheme against politicization, so that it will succeed. “Let’s do this together for nation and posterity,” he said.
Speaking about the initiative, Chernoh Bah MP expressed happiness that the current government is taking action to actualize the students’ loan scheme vision of the former APC government.
“As political actors, we are under obligation to support this scheme, irrespective of our political differences,” he pointed out.
Education, Bah (Photo) said, is a national priority and “that explains why the opposition is not playing politics when it comes to commending and endorsing quality education interventions of the government.”
“When students’ loan scheme succeeds, the whole nation succeeds. Education is the key to national development,” the opposition leader noted.
“I assure you definitely that when the students’ loan legislation document comes to parliament, it will go down in history as one of the fastest bills to sail through this parliament. This will be a venture of the Sierra Leone Parliament supporting as a group, something that will better the lives and future of students of this country,” he concluded.
Earlier, the students’ loan scheme committee chairman, Mr. Paul Amara briefed the opposition leaders on steps being taken to actualize the formation of the students’ loan scheme.
George Weah has introduced free university education for all undergraduate in Liberia. They are lucky to have a president whose policies are pro-poor.
Hello all am so happy about this information God bless us all
I am really happy to hear this, please lets be apolitical.
Education, Education, is the corner stone for any future development of Sierra Leone . The only way our country can overcome its tribal and regional differences is by educating majority of the population. In a country where the illiteracy rate amongst the general population is high, it is vital every right thinking person welcome this students loan scheme. The opposition parties are right in welcoming this development.
It certainly makes a change given the acrimonious relationship that exist between Bio’s government and the opposition APC party. It’s good to see the APC party has finally taken up its role as an opposition party, which it should be, not to oppose any government proposals for opposition sake. It is fitting, where the government is getting things right, they should be supported for the good of the country. So far Bio’s flagship education policy is the only thing that is working in progress. At the same time, the opposition parties should not shy away from calling them out when they get things wrong. After all we only have one country we call Sierra Leone.
In making this students loan available, government needs to spell out the qualifications criteria, what is the threshold students have to meet? How easy is it to apply for the loan? How long will the loan last? When will students start to repay the loan? Is the loan capped, what is the interest rate, does the loan cover all the needs of the students? Bright Students with struggling parents or students from poor backgrounds, can they qualify? Like all Bio’s promises, the proof will be in the delivery. We know this government is making all the right noises but when it comes the delivery, that’s a different kettle of fish. May God bless Sierra Leone.
Anyway, I want to say many thanks to all members of parliament for supporting this good initiative by president Bio. This is what we expecting from you all, One people one country.