As he launches Free, Quality Education…


President Bio says he’s proven his political opponents wrong

August 22, 2018

By Patrick Jaiah Kamara

President launched his free, quality education programme on Monday

While launching the free quality education for pre-primary, primary, junior and senior schools for government and government-assisted schools for the first time in the country, President Julius Maada Bio Monday told a gathering at the Miatta conference centre in Freetown that ‘he has proven his political opponents wrong.’

The free education scheme was President Bio’s major election campaign promise, but his political opponents were pessimistic that it would be possible, referring to it as a mere political gimmick.

“When I promised free quality education, my political opponents said it was never possible and described it as a political gimmick. My political opponents also said, the promise was a political deception just to win votes and the cynics thought it was the usual election promise that quickly disappears after election results,” he remarked.

President Bio said that without quality education a nation cannot get the needed manpower for socio-economic advancement and an enlightened citizenry; thus arguing that the quality of a nation’s education determines the level of its national development.

To also honour his campaign promise, President Bio revealed that his administration would abandon the 6-3-4-4 education system and revert to the 6-3-3-4 system starting this school year which will commence on 17th September.

He said that to boost the quality of the programme, lesson plans for Basic Education and Senior Secondary Education have been developed, coupled with structures to recruit and retain support staff to help in ensuring quality service delivery in schools.

He stated that the support staff would assist in effective lesson planning and delivery to support the progress of all children in the classroom, thus noting that it was imperative on everyone to show the children that education is the ticket to fulfilling their dreams and having a productive life.

Meanwhile, the package for the scheme which the president said would be rolled out in the next five years include school fees subsidy for all Government and Government-assisted schools, accelerated Primary School Programme for ‘over-aged’ children in Non-Formal Education Learning Centres, and NPSE, BECE, WASSCE and NVQ Examination Fees for students attending Government and Government-assisted Schools.

He also maintained that textbooks in the four ‘core’ subjects of English Language, Mathematics, Integrated Science and Social Studies/Civic Education would be provided and that essential Teaching and Learning Materials (TLMs) for  pupils at all levels, and exercise books, pens, pencils, chalk, registers, sports equipment, would be supplied.

He said his flagship programme would be bringing additional teachers on to the payroll and increase salaries for them from Grades 1 to 6 of the GoSL salary scale, and that the government school feeding programme for all government schools would also commence this September, adding that supply of some furniture for Government and Government-assisted Schools identified as having the greatest need would be provided.

President Bio also called on parents and guardians to show their commitment to the education of their children by covering footwears, transportation, additional school materials and school uniforms.

He also urged school stakeholders to note that inefficient and ineffective teaching and learning would have no place in the educational system, and that government would only cover the cost of one repeat per level and that the cost of more than one repeat would have to be covered by the parent or guardian.

The launching was climaxed by pledges from government ministers, business people, and multi-national organisation, among others.

Meanwhile, President said: “I, as the first gentleman of this Republic, I pledge three months of my presidential salary to the multi donor basket fund.” he said.

His wife, Madam Fatima Bio, pledged Le100 million to the fund on behalf of the Fatima Maada Bio Foundation, whilst the Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, pledged 50% of his salary for a total of 12 months and 10 cows to support school feeding project.

Also, Chief Minister Professor David Francis, Foreign Affairs Minister Dr. Alie Kabba, and Minister of Basic Primary and Secondary Education Lawyer Alpha Timbo all pledged three months of their salaries.

Speaker of House of Parliament, Hon. Chernor Abass Bundu, donated one month of his and the salaries of all parliamentarians, adding that they would enact any legislation to give efficacy to the free, quality education scheme.

In addition, Mayor of Freetown City Council, Her Worship Yvonne Aki-Sawyer donated 50% of her three months’ salary, spread over a year.

Mobile phone companies and other business partners also pledged donations toward the free quality education scheme.