Sierra Leone Telegraph: 26 November 2020:
Last Monday, President Dr Julius Maada Bio presented a cheque of over Le 9 billion in Segbwema, Kailahun District, Eastern Sierra Leone to the Skills Development Fund, which would initially benefit over 1,660 ypoung people in his political heartlands of Kenema and Kailahun districts.
Paramount Chief of Njaluahun Chiefdom, James Sheriff Coker-Jajua, expressed joy for receiving the President, but most importantly for the launch of the skills development fund in his chiefdom that would support middle-level manpower through technical education.
“I am humbled to welcome you all to Njaluahun Chiefdom and to tell you that the Free Quality Education has really helped the poor people of this country,” he stated.
Member of Parliament for Constituency 008, Honourable Wuyata Bernadette Songa, thanked the President for the opportunity given to her people to host the launch for the Skills Development Fund in Njaluahun Chiefdom. She noted that such an initiative would go a long way to strengthen and deepen the foundation of the Free Quality Education.
She, therefore, encouraged the people of the district, particularly the youth to take good advantage of such an opportunity, which she said would help develop the country’s middle manpower.
Minister of Tertiary and Higher Education, Professor Aiah Gbakima, said the project was in partnership with the World Bank and that it would cater for those students who couldn’t meet the requirements to enter university. He said with those skills training centres delivering carpentry, tailoring, mechanics and other training, the development fund will target about 8,000 beneficiaries by 2023.
“This exercise went through extended inter-agency partnerships. I thank all partners, including the World Bank,” he concluded.
Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, said that it is a government of Sierra Leone project, but partnered with the World Bank to implement the first phase in the east of the country.
“The World Bank has seen the political will of this administration to make education accessible to everyone in the country. And this skills development initiative is in line with the 2018 manifesto of the ruling Sierra Leone People’s Party, ” he stated.
Minister Saffa also noted that the Skills Development Fund has a budget of over 120 billion Leones that would span through 2024, adding that the more funding the programme gets the more the government would extend the implementation to other districts.
President Dr Julius Maada Bio said that he is happy to be in Njaluahun, particularly in Segbwema, where the people are always very excited to welcome him as one of their own.
“My visit here today is to launch the Skills Development Fund and to show that my government values education. Education should be treated seriously because it is the only means to lasting development,” he said.
He continued by saying that the Fund would cater for those who could not make it to university or college, so they would become useful in nation building. He admonished the youth of the district to take their education seriously because he believes that education is a universal key that unlocks every door.
“Education is good for nation-building and for personal development. Therefore, I urge you all to make every effort to support this programme. The future ahead of us in very challenging and it is only education that will prepare us all for the Fourth Industrial Revolution. I now have the honour to launch the Skills Development Fund, to help foster education,” he concluded.