Sierra Leone Telegraph: 4 March 2019:
President Julius Maada Bio of Sierra Leone will visit Harvard and MIT – leading global institutions of higher learning, research and innovation, in Boston, USA on Thursday, 7th March 2019, to build research and innovation partnership with Sierra Leone.
The president will engage with students, researchers and faculty as he builds partnerships for technical and academic exchange.
Sierra Leone has committed 21% of its national budget to education as part of a new government strategy for sustainable growth that prioritises human capital development.
In August 2018, President Bio launched the Free Quality Education Project (FQEP) for all Sierra Leonean children from primary to secondary school. The FQEP covers tuition and learning materials for core subjects like English and Mathematics.
As a result, an estimated 2 million school children in government and government-assisted schools now have access to free education.
“By investing our resources in free, quality teaching and learning, we are investing in human capital and empowering our youth to be the generation that will end poverty in our time,” said President Bio.
Besides investments in education, President Bio established the country’s first government Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) and the Presidential Infrastructure Initiative, both at the Office of the President.
DSTI Sierra Leone is the manifestation of the President’s vision to harness technology for national development and create ecosystems for Sierra Leonean entrepreneurs to thrive and compete globally.
At Harvard and MIT, President Bio will share the policies that he has put in place to enhance government performance and service delivery.
President Bio will participate in an open discussion, with lectures by distinguished faculty leaders from Harvard and Tufts University, at the Forum on Sierra Leone hosted by the Harvard Law School.
While the President’s visit is to strengthen ties, Sierra Leone already benefits from technical support from both Harvard and MIT.
Several current members of his Cabinet will participate at the Harvard Ministerial Leadership Program, where they’ll receive technical support shaped by their policy goals and specific needs.
The Mayor of Freetown City Council – Yvonne Aki Sawyerr, is a beneficiary of the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative.
There are MIT faculty, researchers and students currently embedded at DSTI Sierra Leone where they are collaborating with local scientists to develop solutions that range from data mapping for an integrated national revenue and expense platform, to a USSD service that will monitor water levels in reservoirs and send SMS alerts to citizens and relevant government agencies.
The President’s visit to Harvard and MIT will take place on March 7-8 2019. MIT Media Lab and Chairman Emeritus Nicholas Negroponte, and MIT Media Lab Director Joi Ito will host President Bio at the Media Lab.
Later, president Bio will speak at the Institute of Politics at Harvard Kennedy School (“Harvard’s premier arena for political speech”).
Prior to participation in the Forum on Sierra Leone, President Bio will meet with Harvard President Larry Bacow and several Deans across the University.
The president will be hosted at an Investor Dinner, focused on Sierra Leone – at the Harvard Faculty Club, bringing together potential and current investors in Sierra Leone.
He will be accompanied by senior-level members of the cabinet and Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer, Dr. David Sengeh, who is an alum of both Harvard and MIT.