The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School, Alpha Timbo, on Thursday 22 August, 2019, at the Information Ministry on Youyi Building in Freetown, said, government spent Le1.25 billion on school subsidy in the last one year. The pronouncement was made in respect of the first phase of the free quality education program which was launched a year ago. In his statement, the Minister said, they as a government have an education plan which includes, access, relevance of system, and system strengthening under the first phase which has been successfully completed in the first phase of the free quality education program which commenced on the 17 September 2018. He said, the first phase constitute the following: abolition of admission fees and tuition fees, payments of the National Primary School Examination (NPSE), Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), and the West Africa Senior School Examination (WASSCE), supply of core text books, school feeding program, etc. “with support from the European Union, World Bank, Mercury International, we have been able to build over 127 new schools across the country.” The Minister said.
The Minister revealed that they as a Ministry will begin to issue teacher’s certificate to teacher across the country. However, he said there are so many untrained and unqualified teachers, but they will ensure that they provide a loan facility to those teachers who wish to capacitate themselves. 21% of government budget was allocated to the education sector earlier last year for the free quality education program since it was the government’s flagship program. Many have criticized the free quality education program, saying it lacks monitoring, and therefore not sure of its success. The Minister said, they will establish a district education board in order to ensure that the education system becomes decentralized, and ward education committees and 160 inspectors will be recruited and set up and stationed in all districts across the country, charged with the responsibility for proper monitoring of the school system. “Over the years, government spends huge amount of money on education, but because of over centralization in governance there seems to be no better outcome.” The Minister noted. The Minister revealed plans to digitalize the education system, for he said, Ipads and tablets will be made available in due course for a smooth learning process. Many Sierra Leoneans, especially parents eagerly await the one shift system as promised by the government. Mohamed Saccoh is a concerned parent, and hoping to see the promise made be actualized. According to the Minister, plans to implement the one shift system are underway, and within the next six month to one year there will be no school with two shifts in the country. Ghana is currently in the process of reviewing it one shift system, and that is because the schools are crammed with school pupils. Therefore, the reverting to a two shift system will be very crucial for a conducive learning process.
By Sulaiman Karim Sesay and Inyillah Borteh Conteh