May 20, 2016 By Patrick Jaiah Kamara
A lecturer at the Department of Economics, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone, has blamed under budgeting and lack of adequate trained personnel for the poor state of the country’s education system.
Samuel Jamiru Brima identified inadequate financial allocation to the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and the Local Government as reason for poor delivery in the education sector.
Mr. Brima was speaking Tuesday (17 May) during a validation of a report titled ‘National Research on Education Gaps and Domestic Financing in Sierra Leone’ at No. 16 Robert Street in Freetown.
The 22 page research document, done by Education For All Coalition-Sierra Leone (EFA-SL), focuses mainly on cognition rate, access to education, government allocation, collection of domestic resources, budget deficit, budget allocation and planning, discretional duty waiver, among others.
The economics lecturer, who was lead researcher and part of the technical committee of the coalition, noted during a power point presentation that there is approximately Le622bn funding gap in the education sector, adding that such poses a huge challenge for the government and that if measures were not put in place to increase domestic revenue collection, the sector would depreciate by 2025 as their projection shows that 44% of the country’s population would be in school.
“If the government improves tax administration and collection to boost domestic revenue mobilisation, the funding gap could be reduced further. The issue of discretional duty waiver should be discouraged,” the report suggests.
The report states that despite donor intervention in the sector, a 15% gap in funding still remains to be the cause of the drop in the quality of education.
According to Mr Brima, although 2010 to 2015 witnessed an increase in budgetary allocation in education, there was still pressure on the sector because of increase in population.
He said the country has undergone drastic transformation in a bid to make education the key to success but the results seem farfetched from the goals set.
Mr. Brima noted that postponement of the National Primary School Examination was not unconnected with financial issues, adding that candidates who had prepared for the exams before it was suddenly rescheduled might be psychologically affected as a result.
Executive Director of EFA-SL, Joseph Kobena, while giving the background of the project, said Sierra Leone was among six Africa countries selected to make a representation in Ghana for drafting a project for education for all.
He said the three year project is supported by the European Union (EU), African Network Campaign for All (ANCEFA) and IBIS, and that it was slated to have started in 2015, but for the Ebola outbreak.
He explained that the objective of the project was to accelerate the achievement of quality inclusive education for all, as aid to basic education was declining rapidly in African countries.
“Aid trench is pushing away, so we want to look for a way to finance education. The only sustainable long term way to finance education and other social services is from domestic revenue,” he said.
He said they have presented a work plan to their donor partners and a ten page summary of their findings to be reviewed and used as advocacy on the gaps and domestic financing in the county.
He urged that African countries not to depend on donor partners as there is a donor fatigue towards African countries with regards education.
Meanwhile, the document was validated, with comments from representatives from the Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools, Ministry of Finance, and Staff of EFA-SL captured in the document.