The Appropriation Act 2023 which was read for the first time in Parliament last Friday reiterated government commitment to the implementation of the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) by allocating 22% of the country’s national budget to education with expansion of the school feeding programme to more chiefdoms.
The Bill entitled “The Appropriation Act 2023”, being an Act to authorise expenditure from the Consolidated Revenue Fund for the services of Sierra Leone for 2023, was read for the first time by Minister of Finance Mr. Dennis Vandi.
Government is allocating a total of NLe2.1 billion to the education sector, accounting for 22 percent of the total discretionary budget to support basic, secondary, higher and TVET education. This amount includes NLe887.7 million as salaries for teachers and NLe347.3 million as salaries for employees of tertiary education institutions.
From the recurrent budget, an amount of NLe137.6 million is allocated to the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education and NLe34.9 million to the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education. The Teaching Service Commission is allocated an amount of NLe3.5 million, and the Tertiary Education Commission, NLe6.0 million. Transfers to local councils for devolved education services will amount to NLe17.1 million.
The allocation also includes NLe476.7 million from the domestic capital budget to the Free Quality School Education Programme for the provision of teaching and learning materials, payment of school fees subsidies, support to the school feeding programme, payment of WASSCE examination fees, diet for boarding schools, welfare and hygiene packages for school going girls, and rehabilitation of boarding home facilities. In addition, from the domestic capital budget, NLe32.3 million is transferred to local councils for NPSE and BECE examination fees. An amount of NLe42.2 million is also allocated to the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education, of which NLe30.0 million is for the clearance of Grant-in-Aid arrears to Tertiary Education Institutions.
Development partners will disburse NLe534.6 million to support the implementation of various basic and secondary education projects. The sum of NLe526.3 million will also be provided by partners for the implementation of projects in higher and technical education.
“To enhance improvements in basic education service delivery, including learning outcomes for all learners, government will continue paying school fees and examination fees, and providing core textbooks, teaching and learning materials for all children in Government-owned and Government-assisted schools; government will expand the school feeding programme to learners in food insecure chiefdoms, progressively increasing the provision of assistive devices for special needs children and providing school buses,” the Finance Minister said.
He said the government through its partners will restore the homegrown school feeding programme through school gardening, adding that the government will continue other targeted investments in education infrastructure by equipping additional schools with science laboratories and libraries, connecting an initial pilot of about 136 schools to the internet through project Giga.
He said the government will continue its intentional efforts to support the education of the girl child and the implementation of the Radical Inclusion Policy; and continue to leverage science, technology and innovation in the education sector and implement Phase II of the Education Innovation Challenge (EIC).
“While we are implementing economic policies to cope with the multiple and overlapping crises, the Government is still committed to undertaking investments in human capital development that will increase the future productivity of our citizens. These include continuing to support the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) programme, strengthening technical and higher education, improving primary health care and expanding social safety nets to mitigate the impact of the crises on the vulnerable population,” he said.
According to the Minister, since 2018, Government has spent NLe4.1 billion on basic education and mobilised more than US$140.0 million for the sector, noting that the outcomes at pre-primary, primary and secondary levels are increased enrolment, transition and completion rates.
He said government has mobilised 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, including the school feeding programme and hygiene pads for girls;
Disclaimer: Comments expressed here do not reflect the opinions of Sierraloaded or any employee thereof.
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