Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 September 2019:
On Tuesday, 10 September 2019, president Julius Maada Bio launched a national mobile library initiative at State House in Freetown, where he encouraged pupils and students to improve on the culture of reading in the country.
Founder of Lunch Box and project lead for the mobile library initiative – Madam Memunatu Janneh, said she is inspired by the vision of president Bio and his New Direction Government to deliver free quality education to children in Sierra Leone which, she said, should help increase literacy rate across the country.
She stated that her team is working on developing the mobile library initiative to help increase the level of reading among children because reading is highly critical in raising standards of education.
President of the 50/50 Group, the country’s foremost non-partisan organisation advocating for increased political participation and equal representation of women in national decision-making, Dr Fatou Taqi, said that the mobile library initiative presents a timely opportunity for civil society organisations and private partners to work in partnership with the government.
She said free quality education is important in promoting basic human rights, adding that the initiative is needed to regain the lost culture of reading and reclaim the pathway for a better nation.
President Julius Maada Bio said that education is his passion because that was why the country was once referred to as the Athens of West Africa. Bio said although the country has fallen off the ladder, it is now trying to take back its position. He said he has declared the free quality education as a national project that requires the support of everyone.
“But reading and comprehension matter. Children who read have more advanced cognitive skills, they are more successful in critical thinking and process information faster; they are higher achievers in later education,” he said.
He also stated that the mobile library is a laudable initiative that would provide access to reading materials for thousands of children; improve their development in education and augment the work of the Sierra Leone Library Board.
He said his opponents have doubted the free quality education in the first year of the government but noted that with 21 percent of the national budget dedicated to education so far, over two million children are now in school. He added that the programme has also improved access to education irrespective of tribe, political affiliation and gender.
The President also used the opportunity to comment on the recent public display of handcuffed teachers with placards for alleged examination malpractices.
He said the decision by the ACC to publicly disgrace the suspects was wrong. Whilst the President praised the new leadership of the Anti-Corruption Commission for the brilliant fight against corruption, he described their latest action as wrong.
President Bio profoundly apologised on behalf of the ACC, noting that as President he is motivated to apologise as guardian of the country’s Constitution, the rule of law and to protect the rights of all citizens.