US$17.2M Education Programme Launched


By Aruna Rashed Toma Bangura

His Excellency, Rtd Brig. Julius Maada Bio has on the 30th January 2019 formally launched a seventeen million United States Dollars (US$17.2) Global Partnership for Education (GPE) project at the St. Joseph Secondary school on Syke Street, Freetown. The President also used the opportunity to commission the construction of fourteen Teaching Service Commission district offices.

“The GPE is strengthening strategic partnership in Sierra Leone,” the President said, whilst commending it for the long-standing relationship and effort made in enhancing education in the country. He said education is a component of human capital development, adding that GPE aligns with the free quality education scheme as it addresses access to equal and free quality education.

Speaking at the event, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Alpha Osman Timbo Esq. who chaired the ceremony, said that the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) targets three main components which include access to better education for every child, to ensure quality education for more vulnerable children in deprived communities and  a systemic approach of teaching.

The Minister maintained that during the launching of the free quality education scheme, the President made certain promises such as providing free learning materials to school. As a ministry, he said, that promise was taken very seriously as they have so far made successes with the collective efforts of development partners.

He concluded by stating that GPE is made up of sixty five countries with the sole objective of creating a strong foundation for learning.

On her part, the Head of Department for International Department (DFID), Mary Hunt said since 2003, DFID has long been a standing partner for development in Sierra Leone by building strong partnership.

She commended the efforts of President Bio in making a systemic change and transformation to improve children’s education.

“It is top priority for the UK to see all children, especially girls and those with disabilities, access quality education. The UK makes a major contribution to GPE and we are pleased that a significant amount of this funding has been mobilized to help the Government of Sierra Leone deliver on its commitment to give all children a chance to reach their potential,” she said.

The GPE, she said is, among other things, aimed at supporting government’s free quality education flagship programme.

Also speaking at the event The UNICEF representative in Sierra Leone, Dr. Hamid El-Bashir, had this to say: “We applaud the contribution of the GPE and other development partners in working with the government to foster quality learning increase enrolment, retention and completion rates of school children.”

The Head of Teaching Service Commission (TSC) Dr. Staneala Beckley said with funding from GPE, the TSC has completed comprehensive assessment of teachers. She said, “we need quality teachers to build a better nation,” adding that the TSC will have to recruit about, 5,000 teachers this year so that it can deploy qualified teachers nationwide.

The Director of GPE, Alice Albright disclosed that the GPE has pumped £4.9M in education from 2002 to date. Better education, she said, reduces poverty and improves the nation, adding that some 3,000 children are out of school globally.