Augustine Sankoh: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 15 February 2022:
The World Bank Regional Vice President for Western and Central Africa, Mr. Ousmane Diagana during his visit to Sierra Leone last week, pledged the Bank’s commitment to continue to provide funding and technical advice in support of the country’s education system.
“I am pleased that the World Bank has made the decision to allocate 50 million Dollars to support the education system in Sierra Leone. Education is at the center of our priorities for Sierra Leone, currently we have a portfolio of 76.85 million dollars. This comes as an addition to the number of education projects that we have funded in Sierra Leone,” he said.
“School is a game changer; education system is a game changer. I would like to commend the authorities in Sierra Leone for their vision of having an education system which is inclusive, accessible, and aims at achieving quality.
“I have the opportunity this morning to congratulate the President of Sierra Leone for allocating 22% of the country’s budget to education and I would also like to congratulate the Minister and the leadership of Basic and Senior Secondary Education for his leadership and vision,” he said.
He also commended the government of Sierra Leone for making education accessible to vulnerable groups, for providing teaching and learning materials to pupils and students, for creating an environment that will not only attract children but also retain them in the education system, for creating an environment that will make the pupils and students wake up every morning and be pleased to go to school.
The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education Dr David Moinina Sengeh said the Ministry’s leadership decided to choose Saint Luke’s as an example because it is one of the schools that the Ministry has implemented many of the activities, they have with the World Bank Project.
He said they have engaged teachers and done a lot of teacher training from Pre-Primary to Primary 1-3 and that is why the recent Early Grade Reading Assessment and Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGRA/EGMA) study showed significant improvement, adding that this is very important because it lays the foundation necessary for any transformation across the country.
The Minister used the event to launch the distribution of teaching and learning materials that have been procured through the government of Sierra Leone budget for use in public schools that make up about 84% of schools in Sierra Leone.
“The items will be handed over to the school authority and the Management Committee (SMC),” he said.
The Sierra Leone Free Education Project (SL-FEP) Coordinator Mr. Ambrose Sesay said the Project Development Objective of FEP is to improve management of the Education System, to improve Teaching Practices and improve Learning Conditions.
He said on improving management of the Education System, School Catchment Area and Rationalization Plan in place and associated transparent criterion-based school approval, and financing process implemented, adding that one National Learning Assessment (NLA) conducted, and findings disseminated.
He said on Improving Teaching Services, the percentage of teachers receiving project supported training demonstrating improved teaching practices in the classroom.
And on improved learning conditions, the share of Performance Based Funding Schools meeting 85% of student attendance rate, noting that significant number of students benefiting from improved learning environment (number female).
Meeting President Bio at State House, the World Bank Regional chief said: “Sierra Leone has seen some progress. When we were coming from the hotel, I have seen visible signs of stability. We have seen signs that give hope. We will like to be part of the cooperation that will translate them into real occasions for Sierra Leoneans. The pandemic has impacted the new country partnership framework but there is good implementation of agriculture, education, energy, health, social protection and human capital development projects worth nearly $1 billion.”
President Bio thanked the World Bank Regional Vice President for Western and Central Africa for his visit, adding that such visits will help him gain firsthand information on the challenges facing Sierra Leone, one of the low-income member countries of the World Bank Group.
“I would also like to express my appreciation to the Bank for providing additional financing of $18.2 million for the procurement of COVID-19 vaccines. I look forward to additional support for the roll-out of COVID-19 vaccines nationwide,” he said.
President Julius Maada Bio further noted that the Bank’s support toward development of the proposed Land Administration Project and the Digital Transformation Project is timely, saying that his government is looking forward to expediting preparations for those projects.
He added that there is an urgent need to improve the management and governance of the land sector in Sierra Leone and that the implementation of the digital transformation project will improve the efficiency of government operations and support private sector development.
“Let me, therefore, use this opportunity to thank the Executive Board, Management and Staff of the Bank for their unflinching support to the development aspirations of the Government and people of Sierra Leone,” he concluded.
At a separate meeting with over 20 government ministers and technical leads across Ministries, Departments and Agencies, Chief Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa, said because the Bank is providing over 60% of development financing to the country, they needed to discuss certain triggers before any development policy operation.
The Bank has been the country’s leading development partner, supporting major investments in many sectors and with its affiliate, IFC, it has also been a key supporter of various private sector activities. Total current World Bank Group portfolio for Sierra Leone stands at $1.1 billion, covering 17 national projects.
During the 2018 election campaign, the destructive APC ridiculed then SLPP Presidential Candidate Retired Brigadier Maada Bio about his Free Quality Education Program. Thanks to the almighty based on the fact that it has won the admiration of our citizens and international partners, there is a possibility that it soon become a law in our nation.
Unfortunately, late President Stevens brainwash our nation that “ Den say Bailor Barrie U say Davidson Nicol”, and late President Joseph Momoh ( both of the destructive APC party) double down by stating that “ Free Education is a privilege and not a right” in our country.
May the almighty continue to bless President Bio , Minister Timbo and now Dr. Sengeh for transforming our nation once again as an example of development in our region.
The commitment showed by the world bank in supporting our education system, is vital in any future developments for our country. At the outset, Japan, Singapore and South Korea, Taiwan, and most South East Asian Tiger economise realised, with out investing in education, they will pay a high price in trying to achieve their long-term future economic goals. Today those countries are at the pinnacle of AI research in the field of Robotics technologies, cutting edge science and producing most of the semiconductors that feul growth in the world’s economies .
At the same time, countries in the same region that shares similar experiences like most African countries, like corruption, bad governance, wars, and failing to invest in their youths are the stragglers in the economic rat race. Cambodia’s Pol Pot, waging a war on the educate elites, the Philippines that suffered many years of one man iron fist rule, Ferdinard Marcos, the 1970s Vietnam war, Loas, Burma, Myanmar, that ia still in the grip military dictatorship, are similar to most African countries economic prospects. In Sierra Leone, our country was known as the “ATHENS “of West Africa. The irony of all Ironies was during British Colonial rule rigth up to Independence, when our socalled educated African brothers persuaded us to opt for Independence.Maybe with the benifet of hindsight our country was not ready for Independence.
Without an educated work force, foreign investors will find they have a limited pool of would be candidates that will require traning and job offers. I hope the World Bank will demand transparency and accountability from the education ministry that this funds have been identified for. The world Bank and international development partners have to establish an audit trail mechanism to find out where the funds are going and if they are reaching their intended targets.In a country with one of the highest illiteracy rate in Africa, is about time.