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.