35,000 pupils to benefit from 100 Commissioned schools
Sierra Leone, Freetown: According to the Director of the National Authorizing Office (NAO) Ambrose James 35,000 pupils are set to benefit from the just commissioned 100 Junior Secondary Schools across four districts in Sierra Leone.
The NAO Director disclosed this on Friday 10th September 2021, while explaining the scope of works during the Commissioning of the construction, rehabilitation, and upgrading of 100 targeted Junior Secondary Schools in Bo, Kenema, Port Loko and Bombali by President Bio at the National Islamic Junior Secondary School in Gerihun, Bo District.
It is a 29 million Euros project, funded by the European Union (EU) in order to give a facelift to the country’s education infrastructure.
Mr. James said the project which started in 2020, was a very complex task taking into effect the strong EU regulations, but at the end they pulled it through with the realization that it is the flagship programme of President Bio.
He said it was a six months project but due to coronavirus, the contractors were unable to adhere to the time line. “We started the project by evaluating 105 tenders and had to take rigorous steps in ensuring that the schools (projects) are executed according to plans.”
The project comprises of three segments, to construct including new buildings adding to the existing ones, upgrading which include creating spaces for Science and computer laboratories, libraries and inclusion of solar energy and reconstruct which also includes expanding class room sizes height and wells in all of the above mentioned districts while also equipping them with other necessary facilities.
He said a total of 155 schools were constructed and during the boundary delimitation, some of the schools could also be found in Karene District.
19 new buildings were constructed, 282 toilets for staff and pupils, nine Staff quarters, 50 solar units across the districts, with 31,588 sets of class room furniture.
Amongst other facilities the project provided as support to the education system, is the procurement of laboratory desks tools, together with lots of computers, tablets, motor vehicles and motor cycles. The NAO Director ended up thanking all the partners for pulling through such a mammoth task.
In his statement the Minister of Development and Economic Planning, Dr. Francis Kai Kai said “Today marks an important milestone in the accomplishment of H. E President Bio’s flagship Programme for Human Capital Development in Sierra Leone.”
He said the Commissioning of the 100 rehabilitated, refurbished and equipped schools in four sub regional divisions of Sierra Leone is a big deal for the growing number of school children enrolling in schools as a result of the Government Free Quality Education, their parents, teachers and respective communities.
The EU Ambassador to Sierra Leone Manuel Muller said “Education is the key to the future. Tomorrow belongs to those who prepare for it today,” noting that education is critical for the future.
Ambassador Muller said human development is at the core of the European Union’s commitment towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals by 2030. “Investing in education and skills development, in particular for children, women and youth, is among the five priorities of the new European Union’s strategy with Africa.
He said the EU is actively supporting Sierra Leone Government strategy to ensure free quality education for all, adding that they at the EU and its Members States will continue to support Governments efforts to strengthen national education systems and the quality of learning as well as skills development programme, to support employability, entrepreneurship and income generation opportunities in particular for youth and women.
Talking about the progress in the education sector, the Minister of Basic and Senior School Education Dr David Sengeh said prior to now there was no educational system in place to drive the country’s education forward but with new Bio administration, they will surely get there.
Dr. Sengeh said they have recruited 160 school inspectors to monitor the school activities right round the country, and also have hired well over 8,000 teachers.
He underscored that 15 out of 17 children are benefiting from the school feeding programme, with 72,900 pupils in the district enjoying the facility.
Commissioning the schools, President Bio said the present set of pupils are the future leaders to drive Sierra Leone forward, and stressed the need for them to have good and quality education in doing so. “Education is the best thing you will do for yourself.”
The President told the pupils that the essence of education was the reason he came up with the Free Quality Education. He added that he is paying over Le200 billion every year to the school system for the children in this country to have access to education. “It is free for you but not free for me.”
He called on the parents and community stakeholders to support the children so that they would realize their full potential.
The President said education is the most potent weapon for any country noting that by developing the human being, the country will eventually develop.
Giving the vote of thanks the Head Girl of the National Islamic Development Junior Secondary School Musu Sumbu thanked the government and EU for such support. As one of the pupils, of the school, she promised the authorities they would reach their potential and use the building for its intended purpose.
Other speakers also made important contribution, as the programme ended with traditional performance. MJB/13/9/2021
By [email protected]