Sierra Leone Telegraph: 11 September 2021:
President Dr Julius Maada yesterday officiated at the symbolic opening of 100 schools funded by the European Union (EU) through contract with the National Authorising Office (NAO) in Bo, Kenema, Port Loko and Bombali districts in the south, east, northwest, and north respectively.
Director of NAO, Ambrose James, said the construction of the 100 Junior Secondary Schools was a manifestation of President Julius Maada Bio’s commitment to improving human capital in the country, adding that the initial project cost was 7.75 million euros, plus additional work envisaged to cost one million euros, bringing it to an estimated grand total of 8.75 million euros; and that the project would benefit about 35,000 pupils including teachers and other school staff.
“The project’s core value support included but not limited to the rehabilitation and upgrading of 155 school buildings, construction of 19 new buildings, including libraries, science and computer laboratories, construction or rehabilitation of 282 toilets, construction or rehabilitation of 78 hand-dug wells; construction or rehabilitation of 9 staff quarters and the supply and installation of 50 solar units,” he said.
Mr. James went further to assure that the NAO was pleased with the outcome of the project and the deliverables, adding that they would continue to facilitate projects on behalf of the government and the European Union delegation in Sierra Leone to achieve lofty dreams.
Head of EU mission in Sierra Leone, Ambassador Manuel Mueller, said he is happy to make a statement on such an important and ambitious occasion, noting that the President is investing in the future of school-going children in the country but also because education is crucial to national development.
“It is for this reason that education is at the heart of the European Union worldwide, including in Sierra Leone. EU will continue to support the government’s trajectory in strengthening the institution and human capacity of the country. An effort is being made by the government for inclusive educational growth and effective management of technical institutions. The European Union will continue to support this effort,” Ambassador Mueller assured.
Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education (MBSSE), Dr David Moinina Sengeh, thanked the EU and all stakeholders who worked together, day and night, in achieving the construction, rehabilitation and expansion of the 100 schools. He also thanked President Julius Maada Bio for his continued leadership in providing free and quality school education to every child in the country.
“For the first time in many years in this country, there is now improvement in the pass rate and learning outcome in the country. MBSSE will continue to provide that leadership because it is the only way to move this country to development,” Dr Sengeh noted.
In his keynote address, President Julius Maada Bio said he is happy that public schools are open to every child, not red, green, rainbow party children, noting that the country recorded fewer teenage pregnances for the first time in a decade as part of the government’s radical inclusion of all learners.
“For the first time in the recent history of this nation, children go to school tuition-free. I pay Le 52 billion, parents pay nothing. They take public exams for free. I pay Le 60 billion for WASSCE, BECE, NPSE and parents pay nothing. Per year subsidy, we pay over Le 200 billion for exams and subsidies,” he said
He also announced that for the first time parents no longer need to pay for scratch cards to retrieve their results because the government has developed a technology solution that is free and convenient to access from any cell phone, saving parents and guardians a whopping Le 14 billion.
A school is not just a building. It is a learning environment where the learner is taught things that are beneficial to them and their community.A good effort though. Let’s all tip in to make thie venture a success.
Is this an atual quote: “For the first time in the recent history of this nation, children go to school tuition-free. I pay Le 52 billion, parents pay nothing. They take public exams for free. I pay Le 60 billion for WASSCE, BECE, NPSE and parents pay nothing. Per year subsidy, we pay over Le 200 billion for exams and subsidies,” he said..
Is he really using “I” as if the money is coming out of his pockets? WOW!
Thanks to the Almighty the inspiration of President Bio to make Free quality education and Human Capital Development as his flagship program. The international community especially Great Britain have been waiting for this moment to restore our nation once again as the “Athens Of West Africa”. Prime Minister Boris Johnson was really excited to receive feedback from our president and his Education Minister Dr. David Sengeh to enlighten the world about how to take a quantum leap in education within only 3 years.
It’s rather unfortunate that the NGC Chairman Dennis Bright was trying to put a price on education which is priceless. Minimizing the process to only Le 75,000 is ludicrous based on the fact that he is a Creole elitist doctor who helped our nation to attain our past glory in education. In the 60’s and 70’s the Creoles were responsible for educating most of the people from the provinces and most Africans.
Finally, the British taught us to recite this song: We’re all going to our classes, with clean hands and faces, to pay great attention to what we are told. Or else we can never,be happy and clever, for LEARNING IS BETTER THAN SILVER AND GOLD.
The key word here is “symbolic” . We await reality or practicality for a conclusive pronouncement. Where is the electricity from the Bumbuna hydroelectricity project into which trillions of Leones and millions of dollars have been sunk for decades as SLPP and APC replace each other in governance? Where is the Lungi bridge? What keeps happening to all the foreign loans and grants given to the government for specific projects? If rice donated by the Chinese for children can disappear like salt into sauce, what should make us think that just over seven million Euros won’t suffer the same fate? If billions of Leones can vanish at various government departments, would it be difficult to disappear a few million Euros? If the office of the First Lady can cook up schemes to defraud the nation of millions of dollars, shouldn’t we be forgiven for holding that the infrastructure is already in place for the disappearance of some Euros?
If the former Chief Minister (David Francis) could have nearly two million dollars deposited mysteriously into his account, should we not be forgiven for believing that he can still use the same supernatural beings to do the job for him this time as foreign minister? When will our leaders develop a sense of national pride? With all that we have in natural riches overseas institutions and governments constantly have to feel sorry for us by aiding us in all sectors. This is so patronising that it should shatter the entire being of all Sierra Leoneans and make them feel ashamed to be one. The exceptions of course are the likes of Bio and Earnest and their respective hangers-on and toadies. We shall never gain our independence for as long as we keep having APC or SLPP in power. 27th April 1961 was an illusion. Earnest was about seven or eight years old; he should be able to recall, however vague, how things were as he grew up compared to how they are today.
And yet when we gave him the opportunity to at least stop the backward slide of the nation he bombed it. Bio is not quite sure where he is; sometimes he thinks he is in a holiday camp. Dr Yumkella is the answer. Let us put him on probation for five years. He will make Sierra Leone positively unrecognisable. He will be our own Paul Kagame of Rwanda or Nana Akofo Danqua Addo of Ghana.
Thanks to the EU for their generosity towards our impoverished nation. The 100 schools will indeed add value to our educational sector. Congrats to Mr. Ambrose James for his leadership role during the implementation of this project. Indeed we need an educated citizenry if we are to leapfrog from our current bottom end status in all areas of development.
To reecho minister Sengeh utterance, the government must do all it takes to improve on the quality of our education. Exams malpractices, teachers and lecturers demanding money or sex for grades is out of control virtually in all learning hubs. This is an open secret to everyone that have a student attending these institutions, yet the government continues to turn a blind eye on such acts. I have several relatives attending colleges across the nation, complaining constantly regarding such corrupt schemes. In fact, it’s even worst at our only medical school, COHMAS. If you ever wonder why our medical care is at the bottomless pit, say no more. Absurd!!
The EU ambition in promoting education in developing countries is great.The migratory, and Islamist terrorism threat facing the EU from the West African region and the Horn of Africa, is all down to lack of education and opportunities for the youths in the underbelly of the European countries.Now the European Union have finally woken up to the fact, there security and development is not guaranteed with out helping Africa in a development path that maximise the threats, and counteracts the toxin ideology that Muslim terrorist offers to solve the economic, and environmental plights of communities . No country will develop without giving its young access to quality education,both for individuals and the States.We just have to look at Afghanistan, under Taliban rule, to see denying your population education is dangerous, and set your your country’s economic paths to development backwards. The flagship free education under Bio recognised it as one of the major constraints place on our country’s lack of development. Even before the RUF wars, Sierra-leone was struggling to educate its population.
Indeed is about time we see “education as a right not a privilege” . As President Momoh once said. So we’ve been here before. Our leaders knows what education means to the future developments of our country. The so called freedom fighters of the RUF war, plunged us even deeper to educational uncertainty, and abyss .That to me is their 24crat idioticity of the highest order,for their so called revolutionary zeal. The very thing a country needed to develop is what they set out to destroy. Teachers were killed, educational institutions were burnt down Benevolent Secondary school Makeni was burnt down and many other schools across the country. Its easy to destroy. But to build back is harder . Many young people were forced to abandoned their education and forced to join the war. This are the lost generation. With out access to free education, many children will be left behind.
And with the illiteracy rate in Sierra Leone recorded as one of the highest in the ECOWAS region , maybe the only country that have a comparable features is in Boka Haram infested rigion of Northern Nigeria, where banditry, and kidnapping of thousands of school going children for ransom is the new phenomenon that have disrupted and degraded any efforts by the Federal government of Nigeria to tackle the economic inequalities that exists between the Northern states, versus the southern states. It goes with out saying this disparities, wars, and none economic activities will continue as long as this young generation is denied education.And ultimately, this uneducated youths becomes the cess pool of misfits , or fertile ground for would be recruitment drive for Islamist terrorist . President Bio knows the problems of our country. We all knows the problems, the greatest issue facing us, what is he going to do about it? Is all well and good to commissioned hundred schools across the board in partnership with the European Union . I have certainly lost track of the amounts of projects this president and his government have commissioned before. The problems is the dilivery and completion of this projects, that’s the biggest elephant in the room no one wants to talk about. If the European union is serious about lending us a helping hand both for their benefit and our benefit , I think they should take a leaf from the rule book of how the Chinese government deals with African governments. Bringing in the materials, in this case the building materials and a team of experts, and the machinery needed to construct this school buildings. Giving Bio the money with out monitoring the work, and demand transparency and accountability, will be an other wasted efforts both interms of funding and delivery of services. And we will never get that illiteracy cure line down.And spore our country to an economic utopia.