Sierra Leone’s President Launches free education program, takes detractors by surprise

Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio. Photo: Times Live

Addis Ababa, Ethiopia (ADV) – Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio has taken his detractors by surprise by formally launching the provision of free teaching and learning materials in support of the ‘Free Quality Education programme’ earlier than expected.

During the launching program this week in Freetown, President Bio unveiled textbooks, teaching and learning materials worth Le 221 billion ($26.2 million).

In his keynote address, President Bio mucked at his detractors who cast aspersion and doubts over his presidential campaign promise to prioritise human capital development by offering free quality education to every Sierra Leonean child.

“They (his detractors) had said the proposition was impossible, but within the shortest period (9 months) in office, my administration he had been able to deliver good on that promise,” President Bio said.

In an apparent bid to dissuade mischief in the management of the assorted teaching materials, Mr. Bio said they were “not for sale and anyone caught stealing them will face the full force of the law”.

He explained that his government has allocated over 21% of the national budget to education and human capital development and promised that much was still to come.

The former military leader who resigned his position and went abroad to study, said by providing textbooks and other teaching and learning materials for students, his government had eliminated a major impediment to learning, especially for parents who could not afford the high cost of training their children in schools.

He quoted the late world icon, Nelson Mandela whom he identifies with his confidence in the power of education when he said “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”.

“By investing in the education of our children, we are investing in the future of our nation. Human capital is the most valuable resource in any nation and I believe in it.

“We have done a lot since the formal launch of the free quality education, including the allocation of over twenty-one percent of the national budget to the education sector.

He explained that the initiative was a joint-support from UKAid and the Government of Sierra Leone to the free quality education programme in public and government-assisted schools.

Sierra Leone’s education system is divided into four stages; primary education lasting six years, junior secondary education of three years, three years of either senior secondary education or technical/vocational education and four years of university or other tertiary education.

© Bur-csa – N.W / From our regional correspondent Tamba Jean-Matthew III – African Daily Voice (ADV) – Follow us on Twitter : @ADVinfo_eng