“The Gains of Education May Not Seem Immediate” – President Bio Tells Sierra Leone Parliament

The President of the Republic of Sierra Leone Julius Maada Bio has told parliament that the gains of education may not seem immediately apparent to some, but the future is stolen from those who do not prepare for it today, noting that beneath every great nation and people lies a foundation that was laid yesterday.

He made this disclosure on Tuesday 10th May 2022 in his Presidential Address on the Occasion of the State Opening of the Fifth Session of the Fifth Parliament of the Second Republic of Sierra Leone.

“This is the foundation we seek to lay by making investments in education, mobilising additional funding to improve learning outcomes, expanding school feeding, improving school governance, building more school infrastructure, accelerating the use of technology and innovation in education delivery and governance, publishing developmentally appropriate learning resources and materials, and implementing a new school curriculum,” he said.

He said his government also introduced the best teacher award and new national policies on Radical Inclusion, School Feeding, Integrated Early Childhood Education, School Catchment Areas, and Guidelines on the approval and use of school subsidies.

He said this policy direction has already started producing results like in 2021, over 600,000 additional children, especially girls, accessed schools; over 5,000 additional qualified teachers were recruited and received PIN codes; and his administration recorded a higher success rate in public examinations at all levels.

He said he was moved upon hearing about the achievements of a student of Murialdo Catholic Secondary School in Lunsar, Marampa Chiefdom, Momoh Sankoh, who emerged not just as the best from the school but in the country, for the 2021 West African Senior School Certificate Examination, WASSCE, noting that he subsequently made to offer this outstanding student a 5-year university scholarship with the belief that education can change the fortunes of our kids and provide a future of unbounded hope.

“It is often said that to educate a woman is to educate a nation. No nation that takes its future seriously can afford to ignore the education of its girls and women. For my government, this is non-negotiable. Record numbers of girls are now enrolled at all levels of education in this country. Ground-breaking numbers of girls are now opting to study STEM disciplines as our policy assures free STEM education for girls from Class 1 to the completion of university,” he said.

President Bio said parents no longer resist sending their daughters to school, adding that all across the country, they now believe that with tuition paid by my Government; teaching and learning materials provided by my Government; school feeding in most parts of the country provided by my Government; health care and good school infrastructure provided by my Government; Parents now ask: “WHY NOT?”

“Other national initiatives by our First Lady: “Hands Off Our Girls” that assures comprehensive safety for girls in school and in their communities; “Campaign against Early and Child Marriage” that ensures that our girls persist in, succeed in, and complete school; “Free Sanitary Pads” that removes the stigma of menstruation – now mean that little girls in villages as far adrift as Kurubonla, Koindu, Kamakwie, Sulima can now dream of being and will be doctors, nurses, engineers, lawyers, entrepreneurs and be all they want to be in a new Sierra Leone. That has always been my vision and that has always been my biggest bet – the future of Sierra Leone is female,” he said.

He said his commitment to the citizens of this country drives him and his government to give citizens the strongest tool to occupy that office: education, noting that it is because of education he stands before parliament.

According to the President, it is education that will liberate citizens and empower them with the skills and tools for a healthy, productive, and fulfilling life.

“While we rightly celebrate this, we do not rest on our laurels. Our government is only inspired by these successes to do even more. In the coming year, my Government will lay measures and legislation to consolidate and expand these and other gains in the sector,” he concluded

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