By Hassan Gbassay Koroma
Education Pratice Manager at World Bank for East Africa Region, yesterday Monday, May 23, visited the Stella Maris Primary School at Juba, in Freetown. The visit was to inspect the school for possible Revitalizing Education Development in Sierra Leone (REDiSL) project grant.
Between 2014 and 2019, the Sierra Leone REDiSL project supported over 1,800 schools to improve the quality of education through performance-based financing and helped more than 1.2 million students and teachers during the Ebola crisis.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Halil Dundar, Education Pratice Manager for East Africa Region at World Bank,said he was happy to see the progress made so far, noting that when he came to Sierra Leone for the first time the Revitalizing Education Development in Sierra Leone (REDiSL) project was under implementation and that there was a time they discussed with other partners including the European Union, Irish Aid and others, to set up a large program to support the government Free Education Project.
He said he was pleased to know that there was a program now being implemented on how schools provide learning materials and provide quality access to all across the country, noting that the project is a nationwide that aims at strengthening the capacity of the Ministry of Education.
He said the school has worked assiduously to promote education for children hence they were one of the beneficiaries of the grant, noting that what is matter in the classroom is to ensure that there are trained and qualified teachers with pupils prepared to go to school early.
He said in Africa is not doing very well in terms of and kids are not going to school and when you look at the number of ten years old children across the region about 78% are suffering learning poverty.
He said learning poverty means that children at the age of 10 years old cannot read one sentence and they don’t understand which is bad for the future of children in the country and will have impact of the country within ten to twenty years’ time because they will have less education and less skill to join the labour force.
He said they were pleased to see the strong commitment from the government and that they have been pushing the implementation of the education program that aims to provide quality education for all and the World Bank is happy to be partner in the process.
According to Lucy R. Bangalie, Head Teacher, Maris Primary School, the World Bank visit to her school was in support of the government’s Free and Quality Education Programme in the country, noting that they were giving performance based financing, a grant that they were giving to schools to improve the educational environment, including the classroom, teaching and others.
She said when they received the REDiSL funding, they were going to ensure that the School Management Committee and the Chairperson and Secretary of the committee were going to be signatories to the account.
She said they would have a school improvement plan where they will outline activities give cost and draw a budget and work with it.
She said they would ensure that they account for the funds with documentations and that they will also inform the community on how they spent the money.
The Revitalizing Education Development in Sierra Leone (REDiSL) project aims at improving the learning environment in targeted schools and establishes systems for monitoring of education interventions and outcomes while building the foundation for better management and efficiency within the sector.
The project had a two-pronged approach, including supporting the most disadvantaged schools and strengthening the education systems and despite operating in an environment with a difficult political economy and in a context of limited and unequal access, poor retention and poor quality, the project contributed to addressing key challenges and laying the foundation for the sector.