The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Brig. Rtd. Julius Maada Bio has called on parents and guardians whose children are attending government and government assisted schools to resist any form of extortion from school authorities.

He made this clarion call on Wednesday 19th May during his visit to Kabala Northern Sierra Leone.

The President said collecting unjust payments from pupils is not good for us as a nation and it is adding unnecessary burden on parents and guardians.

“Please parents, when you are asked to pay fees in a government or government assisted school; ask the school authority for the money that was given to them by my government. I know the amount of money that goes to the Ministry of Finance for public schools. The bill is so heavy, but I have resolved to continue paying the fees for children in public schools even if as a government we don’t have money for other competing sectors,” he said.

He said his government has been consistent in paying the school fees, examination fees and doing other payments that are part of the free education package since 2018 when he was voted President.

“I am begging you, let us all come onboard to develop this nation, all of us have a role to play. That is why we always tell the community stakeholders to be checking what is going on in the schools and ensure that the right thing is done,” he said.

He said every child should have equal access to education devoid of the communities they find themselves, adding that some kids in rural areas are more clever than their colleagues in Freetown.

The President emphasized that the best way to move from poverty to a productive adult is education, noting that his administration knows the importance of education that is why his New Direction government decided to remove the price from education and make it free.

Government is paying over NLe50million every term as tuition fees for over 2,200,000 pupils in 7,625 Government and Government-Assisted Pre-Primary, Primary, Junior and Senior Secondary Schools nationwide.

These payments are made directly into the Bank Account of beneficiary schools based on the approved schools list and enrolment data submitted by the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Government restates its commitment to the implementation of its flagship programme; Free Quality School Education.

Since 2018, Government has spent NLe4.1 billion on basic education and mobilized more than US$140.0 million for the sector, government has mobilized additional financing of US$12.0 million from the World Bank for the FREE Education Project to scale up interventions under the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) Programme, and the outcomes at pre-primary, primary and secondary levels are increased enrolment, transition and completion rates.

Credit: Augustine Sankoh, Strategic Communications Analyst MBSSE