Sierra Leone Telegraph: 18 June 2021:
The government of Sierra Leone will receive $6.85 million in additional financing to support the COVID-19 education response in the country, the World Bank announced yesterday.
Funded by the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) under the Free Education Project, the financing will support activities to ensure school safety and strengthen education service delivery, including continuous distance education and accelerated learning.
The World Bank says that the funding will also support sustaining effective Government operations, planning, and policies during and after the COVID-19 crisis.
“As an alternate board member of the GPE Board, Sierra Leone continues to play a leading role in the Partnership to implement programs that promote accessible quality education for all,” said David Sengeh, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education for Sierra Leone.
Admitting that there is growing inequalities in Sierra Leone, minister Sengeh also said: “In the COVID-19 era, we need to think outside the box to ensure that widening inequities do not further push our most vulnerable populations backward. That is the focus of this additional financing. Even as the Ebola Viral Disease has been recently recorded in the sub-region, we will be able to use the same interventions for continuous learning should the disease ever return to Sierra Leone”.
According to the World Bank statement, the financing, which was approved by the World Bank Board of Executive Directors on February 5th and became effective on May 26th, 2021, is aligned with the Government’s education priorities and strategies, including those outlined in the COVID-19 Education Emergency Response Plan and the World Bank’s Country Partnership Framework for Sierra Leone, specifically with its emphasis on the importance of investing in human development.
There is an implementation partnership arrangement with an NGO Consortium led by Save the Children, partnering with Handicap International (operating under the name Humanity and Inclusion), Plan International Sierra Leone, Concern Worldwide, Foundation for Rural and Urban Transformation, Focus 1000, and Street Child of Sierra Leone. This partnership will help the Government deliver activities rapidly, focusing more on community engagement, and reaching the most marginalized and deprived groups, the statement reads.
“This additional financing will help the Government to cover the costs associated with expanded activities relating to the COVID-19 response as well as enhancing the impact of the Free Education Project in responding to the challenges in the education sector,” said Gayle Martin, World Bank Country Manager for Sierra Leone.
She also said that; “the funding will also help address commitment toward achieving a more inclusive approach to education, increasing the retention of girls and improving the learning environment for children with disabilities,” which is in line with declaration made last week at the G7 summit in the UK by the World’s richest nations.
“The Free Education Project is financed by a $66 million grant, with $50 million from the World Bank and $16 million from development partners.
“It will help to address key challenges in the education sector. It will contribute to achieving the Government’s larger strategic objectives in the sector while supporting analytical and advisory services associated with monitoring and evaluation, technical assistance, and research and studies,” the World Bank statement reads.