President Bio announces free education for over 2m pupils

Parents, school authorities, pupils, education authorities and government officials outside the Miatta Conference Centre were in a celebratory mood prior to the unveiling of the free, quality education package.
Haja Rabiatu E. Conteh, National Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Market Women’s Association said as women they are the head and champion of homes and the children. She described their position as the direct beneficiaries of the program stating, most of them are widows, husbands have no work and the entire household depends on women. She said, the money she usually spends on school fees can now be used for food and on other areas of the home.
Olive Maya Fofana, from Freetown Secondary School for Girls (FSSG) called on both government and her colleagues to take advantage of the program. She said the government should ensure teacher’s salaries are increased. She hopes the program works.
On Monday 20 August 2018, President Julius Maada Bio launched the first phase of the free, quality education package for government and government-assisted schools.
The package includes:
School fee subsidy for pre-primary, primary, junior secondary and senior secondary students.
For students who are over the age for primary school, there will be an opportunity to attend non-formal educational learning centres.
The government will pay for pupils taking private examination; BECE, NPSE, WASSCE and NVT examination fees will be provided.
Core subject textbooks will be supplied in English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Science and Civic Education.
Essential teaching and learning materials for pupils and teachers and including exercise books, pen, pencils, chalk, registers and sports equipment.
School feeding program to every school.
Furniture will be supplied to schools in all districts.
More trained and qualified teachers will be integrated onto the government payroll.
The Minister of Basic, Primary and Secondary Education, Alpha Timbo, said there are 2.14 million pupils in over 8,000 government and government-assisted schools according to 2018 school census. The Minister said the project is for five years and the 2018/19 school year will mark the beginning of the first phase.
Isatu Marie Kamara, a teacher, said quality goes with meaningful services so they want to see their welfare considered seriously by the government. She said they want one-on-one teaching and learning materials for the children. She said there is a need for massive sensitization to parents especially those who cannot read and write. She called on her colleagues to stay in class and deliver quality learning to the students.
The Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, said they have released Le32.7 billion for tuition subsidy that is now being processed by the Accountant General’s Department.
The government has received and validated bank accounts for 85% of the primary, junior and senior secondary schools. The Ministry continues to collect and validate school bank accounts. By 7 September, payments of the tuition subsidies will be paid to schools.

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