Sierra Leone Telegraph: 30 June 2020:
The World Bank Board of Executive Directors yesterday approved a $50 million grant to support the Government of Sierra Leone’s flagship program for Free Quality School Education launched in 2018.
According to the World Bank, the Free Education Project will support some initial COVID-19 response activities, including provision of distance learning and communication campaigns on prevention.
Sierra Leone has made significant gains in school enrolment, but education outcomes and skills acquisition are among the lowest in Africa.
The education sector also faces issues of deep inequities in access, weak governance, and inefficient public spending and management.
The project will help address these challenges, as well as strengthen existing mechanisms for reporting violence in schools, including sexual and gender-based violence through effective sensitization and prevention measures.
World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone – Gayle Martin, said: “This financing will support the government’s commitment toward achieving a more inclusive approach to quality education, increasing the retention of girls, especially in secondary school, and improving the learning environment for children with disabilities.
“The project focuses on strengthening the education system in areas of policy, governance, accountability, and administration as part of the World Bank Group’s Country Partnership Framework for Sierra Leone.”
Education, and human capital more generally, is one of the Government’s national priorities as articulated in the Medium-Term National Development Plan 2019-2023.
The Government launched the Free Quality School Education Program to ensure free education for all basic and senior secondary students in the country.
“This project is well aligned with the Government’s and the World Bank Group’s priorities, focusing on addressing education sector challenges and transforming the education system over the long term for the children of Sierra Leone. It emphasizes on the importance of investing in human development as well as decentralizing delivery of basic education services,” said Mari Shojo, World Bank Senior Education Specialist and Task Team Leader.
Specifically, the project will finance the construction of approximately 510 furnished classrooms to meet the immediate infrastructure needs in basic education and provide community-managed and performance-based grants to primary schools for improved school performance and accountability.
It is expected to benefit 2.4 million students, 75,000 teachers and members of School Management Committees and Board of Governors in 9,300 primary and secondary schools.
Over the medium term, it will support communities and local stakeholders in building their capacity and promoting ownership and accountability.