September 13, 2021
By Alhaji Haruna Sani
Vice President Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh has on Thursday, September 9th, this year formally commission 30 Early Childhood Development Centres, with 60 classrooms, all with water and sanitation facilities, furniture, and a playground.
The commissioning of the EDC Centres which took place at Sawulia Village in the Bombali district, was symbolic of 29 other centres in Bombali, Pujehun and Kambia districts districts. The ECD centres were constructed with funding from Grant of the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) and UNICEF on the project title ‘Getting it Right’: Building Strong Foundation for Learning.
The GPE project aims to increase equitable access to education and improve learning outcomes for approximately 1 million girls and boys in public pre-primary and primary schools, with a focus on the most vulnerable children.
The grant will help to improve students reading and mathematics skill in the early grades, expands early childhood development (ECD opportunities to reach approximately 10,000 more young children, provide teaching and learning materials and improve decentralized monitoring, data collection and management, including the establishment of a Learning Assessment Unit (LAU) within the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE).
Delivering his keynote address, Vice President Juldeh Jalloh commended President Bio for launching the Free Quality Education (FQE) and allocating 22% of the national budget to education.
He said the launch of the 30 ECD centres is a clear manifestation of President Bio’s human capital development agenda.
He explains that the centres were well furnished with modern facilities like furniture, playground, and wash facility among others. He disclosed that the project has three phases, noting that in the second phase, 35 more schools will be built in other districts of the country. He said UNICEF, GPE and OSIWA have pledged to actualize the project.
He called the ECD centres ‘Kombra Schools ‘as they offer an opportunity to poor parents to send their kids to pre-primary school at no cost.
According to him, those Kombra Schools are vital to improving learning outcomes that will enable the kids to benefit from the free quality education program of President Bio.
VP Juldeh urges parents to take ownership of the centres by not only sending their kids to the pre-schools but also acting as monitors over it. He further advised them to take good care of the golden opportunity given to their kids. According to him, the ‘Kombra’ Schools are vital to improving learning outcomes and will enable the kids to benefit from President Bio’s Free Quality Education.
In his remarks, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education, David Moinina Sengeh outlined the relevance of ‘Kombra’ Schools, stating that the pre-schools will bring a new dawn in educational development in the country because this is the first time pre-school becomes a vital component public Schooling.
The minister said 2,100 kids from Bombali, Kambia and Pujehun will attend classes in fully furnished child-friendly ECD Centres. He said the ECD Centre is a blessing to the kids and their parents therefore, they should own it.
GPE National Coordinator, Emmanuel Alie said GPE was established in 2002 to compliment the development of education to a huge number of children in developing countries and that its present is felt in over 90 countries.
He added that GPE focuses on early childhood education, teacher training, and system strengthening like collecting and sharing of data and allowing those data to informed policy.
He said the Minister of Education is successful because all his policies are based on data collected from the field.
In her statement, the acting representative of UNICEF in the country, Liv Elin Indreiten said she was pleased to participate in the commissioning of 30 ECD centres for the children of Sierra Leone.
Indreiten stated that since last October, under the Global Partnership for Education Programme, the MBSSE and UNICEF oversaw the construction of 30 child friendly ECD centres across the districts, which are officially commissioned in 6 new communities in Bombali districrt that day.
“These centres will provide a healthy and safe environment for 3 to 6 year old children, contributing to the development of children’s social and intellectual development, while also giving them a sense of normalcy amidst the current Covid-19 global crisis. The centres will help to shape positive experiences and create opportunities for children’s health, learning, protection, growth, well-being and development on daily basis”, she noted.
The UNICEF representative congratulated the government for its demonstrated commitment to ECD through the successful passing of the ECD National policy in May2021. She said the policy contains standards for children for the establishment preschools to help reinforce ECD as an essential building block for the country’s furfure.