One of the reasons for the rapid success of the Free Quality School Education Initiative, in addition to the political will and leadership of President Bio, is local and community level efforts. While policies come from central, implementation and advocacy is local. I’ll share two examples.

Firstly, the Ministry of Education had historically conducted school placements for students who pass transition exams only in Western Area. Then we expanded nationwide and automated the process three years ago. This year, we went a step further- we had all placement meetings happen on the same day right across the country under the leadership of district staff. This saves us time, resources and enhances local ownership. Successful BECE candidates will be interviewed this week and they will resume SSS 1 on Monday, 24th October latest.

Secondly, I met with my long time friend Hon Kandeh Yumkella to discuss about education. As an MP, he fully embraced the FQSE program in 2018, advocating for schools to be approved for financial support from Kambia. He has since supported school development to complement government’s effort. We today spoke about his work in his community where he’s building a digital hub/community library. Together with my School Quality Assurance, Monitoring and Resources Director, we brainstormed ways of collaborating to ensure improved quality.

Samu, Kambia has been doing so well recently that their teachers are now getting national recognition for their work.

I particularly mention this engagement with Hon Yumkella because it is so common for people who believe they are in “opposition” to seek to discredit FQSE if not even undermine it. Yes, there are lots of challenges with equitable quality education all over the world. And yes, we can always find things that could be done better. But if you are not doing that hard work and just want to sit in your corner screaming, you might be part of the problem.

Education is so critical that if you are not asking your politicians what their vision for education is, then you might be doing disservice to your children and grandchildren. As a Ministry and a Government, we don’t have all the answers and certainly not enough resources but we have consistently invested in education and are now seeing some payoffs. We won’t stop until we hit 100% pass rates in Basic Education.