August 6, 2020
By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Majority of Sierra Leoneans has stated that they like the universal free quality education initiative, but however called on the government for greater investment into the initiative.
They made the call through the 2020 Afrobarometer survey conducted by the Institute for Governance Reform (IGR) into the government’s Free Quality Education flagship programme.
The report, which was launched last Thursday, 30th July, at the IGR office in Freetown, captured the views of the people about the initiative.
Speaking to journalists, Researcher and Policy Director at IGR, Dr. Fredline M’cormacichale, says the study shows overwhelming majority of Sierra Leoneans admitting that a member of their family have benefited directly from the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) policy.
She said Sierra Leoneans largely support the FQSE policy for all grade levels, and many opposed the idea of limiting free education in order to save money.
She said a large majority of the population gave the government positive ratings for its performance in addressing educational needs at least before recent school closure due to COVID-19.
She added that half of the citizens said the quality of education has improved under FQSE, and that a majority wanted the government to invest more resources to ensure a high-quality education for all.
She said Sierra Leone was making significant gains in school enrollment, but learning outcomes, literacy levels, and skills acquisition are among the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa.
She said 71% “agreed” or “strongly agreed” that it is better to have the FQSE even if it leads to an increase in the number of educated citizens who cannot find a job.
She said many opposed to the idea that government should save money by limiting the FQSE to pre-primary and primary education,74% or to serve only the poor 56%.
She said 81% agreed or “strongly agreed” that the government needed to invest more resources to ensure that all the necessary facilities, materials, and teachers are available to provide a high-quality education to all students.
Dr. Fredline M’cormacichale said government receives far higher approval ratings on education -74% -than in other performance areas- such as preventing violent conflict 50%, fighting corruption 49%, reducing crime 47%, and managing the economy 19%.
Afrobarometer is a pan-African, nonpartisan survey research network that provides reliable data on African experiences and evaluations of democracy, governance, and quality of life.