Friday, 10th September, President Bio has commissioned the constructed/rehabilitated and upgraded 100 targeted Junior Secondary Schools in rural areas in the four districts of Bo, Kenema, Port Loko and Bombali in the esteem presence of the new Head of the European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone Ambassador Manuel Muller under the project “European Union Support to the Education Sector in Sierra Leone”.
Addressing a large crowd of pupils and community stakeholders during the commissioning ceremony in one of the newly constructed schools, National Islamic Junior Secondary School in Gerihun, Baoma Chiefdom, Bo District, President Maada Bio expressed gratitude to the EU for their many areas of support including education which he said his government prioritised because he believes in human capital development.
President Bio continued to say he was happy that public schools are open to every child noting that the country recorded fewer teenage pregnancies for the first time in a decade as part of their radical inclusion of all learners.
The Head of European Union Delegation to Sierra Leone, Ambassador Manuel Mueller, said he was happy to make a statement on such an important and ambitious occasion, noting that the President was investing in the future of school-going children in the country but also because education was so crucial to national development.
Ambassador Muller further mentioned that, it is for this reason that education is at the heart of the European Union worldwide, including Sierra Leone. He said the EU will continue to support the government’s trajectory in strengthening the institution and human capacity of the country.
Speaking on the project scope of works, the Director of the National Authorising Office (NAO), Ambrose James said the project rehabilitated and upgraded 155 school buildings, constructed 19 new buildings including Libraries, Science and Computer Laboratories, constructed/rehabilitated 282 toilets for girls, boys and staff, constructed/rehabilitated 78 hand dug wells, constructed/rehabilitated 9 Staff Quarters and supplied and installed 50 Solar Units.
Ambrose James further informed the audience that 31,588 sets of classroom furniture were distributed to over 472 schools including targeted and non-targeted schools in the respective districts. He said the project provided 2,975 Library chairs, 320 Library desks, 600 bookshelves, 420 Laboratory Desks and 168 Laboratory Stools. Ambrose James ended up saying the NAO attaches a lot of importance to this project as it dovetails with the President’s flagship programme which places premium on human capital development.
Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education (MBSSE), Dr David Moinina Sengeh, thanked the EU and all stakeholders who worked together in the project for it to be successful. He further mentioned the benefits this support will add to the education sector in the country.
The Minister of Planning and Economic Development (MoPED) who also doubles as the National Authorising Officer of the 11th European Union Development Fund, Dr. Francis Kai-Kai, said the commissioning of the 100 schools mark an important milestone in the accomplishment President Bio’s flagship programme for Human Capital Development in Sierra Leone. He said the commissioning of the 100 schools rehabilitated/refurbished and equipped schools in four districts is a big deal for the growing number of school children enrolling in schools as a result of the Government’s Free Quality Education, their parents, teachers and the respective communities.
Dr. Kai-Kai said the event is showcasing the European Union’s contribution to the Free Quality Education by commissioning 100 schools that have been constructed/rehabilitated and upgraded through the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) for Sierra Leone.
The EU’s “Support to the Education Sector in Sierra Leone” is a project financed under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) Financing Agreement signed between the European Union and the Government of Sierra Leone, for a total value of EUD 29,000,000.
Twenty-five schools have been constructed/rehabilitated/upgraded in 49 chiefdoms in each targeted district resulting to a total of 100 schools.
The overall objective of the support is to contribute to government’s efforts to provide equitable access to high quality learning for children in Sierra Leone, in line with the national education policies and targets.
The project is also aligned with the strategic objects of the Education Sector Plan (ESP) 2014-2018, ESP 2018-2020 and the Free Quality School Education programme, the programme is also aligned with the 2019 endorsed Medium Term National Development Plan, which put a renewed emphasis on. Education and Capital Development.
The project is estimated to benifit about 35,000 pupils including Teachers and other school staff