By Ishmael Dumbuya
The Government of Sierra Leone has yesterday, 6th February, 2023, hosted the inaugural Foundational Learning Exchange at the Freetown International Conference Center in Aberdeen.
In his opening statement, President Bio welcomed every guests present to the engagement.
He went on to disclose that as a country, they have closely identified the vision statement from the UN Secretary General on transforming education wherein students can learn.
“We are one of the first signatories of the commitment to action created by the World Bank and UNICEF and launched at the Transforming Education Summit,” he said.
The president continued that his government believes that education is a right and not a privilege.
“My government has added one million more learners, especially girls, achieved gender parity in basic education, and registered higher achievement outcomes for girls,” he said.
He further stated that his government has catered for specialized learning and teaching materials as well as provided school meals in poor and deprived areas, adding that with the Free Education his government has proved that gender parity is possible especially with the premium placed on girls’ education.
“We believe that education is not a cost; it’s an investment, the best investment we can make for an inclusive and sustainable future for our country. There is recognition among global leaders that SDG-4 remains the best accelerator for achieving all Sustainable Development Goals,” he reiterated.
The president emphasized that at the meetings in Paris and New York, he argued that if they collectively position education at the top of their agenda, they can take bold actions to address the global learning poverty and thus transform education.
He ended on the note that as Heads of States, they must demonstrate buy-in and commitment to a rigorous approach to foundational learning, adding that he was hopeful that the communique that concluded the exchange spoke to all of the foregoing concerns.
The Minister of Basic and Senior School Education (MBSSE), David Sengeh explained that in 2018, the government established the Free Quality Education Programme which is committed to the advancement of quality education in Sierra Leone, with an objective to increase nationwide access to quality pre-primary, primary, and secondary school as well as school- level specialized and vocational training.
He went on to state that the MBSSE under his leadership has brought in so many initiatives to improve the educational system at the Basic and senior secondary levels, including teacher training, and access to education for disadvantaged groups as well as investing in infrastructure and resources.
He climaxed by indicating that the FQSE programme under President Bio guarantees that all costs for formal and informal school instruction are covered and permits parents to take duty for auxiliary costs concurring to the capacity to pay.
The program drew personalities’ from UNICEF, World Bank, UNESCO and ministers’ within the government.