The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), with support from the World Bank, is set to launch a Performance-Based Financing (PBF) grant worth $19.2 million. This initiative will impact a total of 5,074 primary schools covering the full cycle of classes from 1 to 6.

According to Mr. Ambrose Sesay, the Project Coordinator for the Free Education Project Secretariat (FEPS), the PBF school grant is designed to benefit both Approved and Non-Approved schools. This includes government schools, government-assisted institutions, and certain community schools. Mr. Sesay explained, “The school grant is to be paid per term, which is three times in a year. However, following Crisis & Emergency Risk Communication (CERC), this provision has been revised, and the grants are now to be paid two terms in a year.”

The disbursement of these funds will be tied to specific performance indicators. Among these indicators are pupil attendance, teacher attendance, the quality of school management, including sub-indicators like School Management Committee (SMC) meetings and the preparation of School Improvement Plans (SIPs). Additionally, indicators will assess pupils’ reading competences and consider equity factors such as whether the school is approved or unapproved, serves a poor community, is a ‘small’ school, or accommodates disabled pupils.

To facilitate data collection for the PBF indicators, the project has procured 508 data collection equipment, including tablets, power banks, and chargers. The Open Data Kit (ODK) app has been installed on these devices with technical assistance from the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI). A total of 508 enumerators and data collectors have been trained across the country to effectively utilize the data collection equipment. So far, four rounds of data collection on PBF indicators have been conducted in all primary schools, covering terms 2 and 3 of the 2021/22 academic year and terms 1 and 3 of the 2022/23 academic year.

In addition to data collection efforts, the project has provided training to 12,928 members of School Management Committees at the community and cluster levels nationwide. This training encompassed the processes and procedures of the PBF, as well as School-Based Management Practices. To further enhance the efficiency of the School Management Committees in school management, the project has procured off-the-shelf School-Based Management toolkits and templates, which are currently being distributed to 6,464 primary schools across Sierra Leone.

Moreover, an independent verification and audit of the utilization of PBF funds in a sample of schools have been conducted by the Audit Firm, BDO. The stakeholder validation of the audit report will take place in Kenema on September 20, 2023.

This significant investment in Sierra Leone’s education system through the PBF grant aims to improve the quality of education, promote accountability, and ensure that educational resources are used effectively and efficiently in primary schools across the country.