Mousa E. Massaquoi: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 September 2018:
As the Free and Quality Education programme starts on September 17th, the Public Relations Officer of the Ministry of Basic and Senior Education, Brima Michael Turay has revealed that the Ministry of Finance has allocated forty three billion Leones as school fees to all government and government assisted schools across the country.
He made the disclosure yesterday at the government’s weekly press briefing held at the Ministry of Information and Communications, while updating the press about the preparedness of his ministry.
He explained that with the amount allocated, they have only disbursed twenty nine billion Leones to schools across the country, stating that they will have to approve more teachers and schools once they meet the requirements with the fourteen billion Leones that is left.
In the area of the school feeding programme, he disclosed that the ministry is only going to target deprived schools, both in the Western Areas and in the provinces.
“The school feeding programme was not part of the package, but it has been added as a supplementary package to the Free and Quality Education programme and we have already identified them,” he stated.
In addendum, he said the previous government was paying sixty six Leones (Le66) for every child for the school feeding programme, but this new administration has increased it to Le2,000 per child, stating that the cooking is going to be done five times a week.
Mr. Turay maintained that they have already contacted development partners including WFP, CRS and Joint Aim Management (JAM) which is a South African company that is specialized in food production. He said, “We have already allocated land to JAM at Yeli where they will be cultivating their own crops.”
He maintained that this is the first time in the history of Sierra Leone where a political administration has declared free and quality education, with the highest budget allocation of 21% to the education sector.
Responding to the allegations that school heads are collecting monies from parents as admission fees, he said those head teachers and principals that are in the habit of collecting money from parents – if caught, will be suspended and hand over to the Anti-Corruption Commission. (Photo: Brima Michael Turay).
“We held a meeting with the conference of principals and we agreed that for now they should sell uniforms in schools but at specific prices.
“They said prices should be made available to the public and it is not negotiable,” he informed.
Meanwhile, the communications man called on all and sundry to support the free and quality education programme, because if it fails it will be a shame to the whole nation, he said.
He concluded by disclosing that over 11, 000 schools across the country have been identified to benefit from the package.
Editor’s note: This is the breakdown of government spending on schools for the first term of the school year: