The Chief Executive Officer of “Community Action to Restore Lives” (CARL) Madiana Bockae Samba has presented Sierra Leone’s Free Quality School Education as a best practice against Private for Profit Commercial Schools which excludes poor and vulnerable children in Sierra Leone. She was speaking at the annual meetings of the Bank taking place in Washington DC. Her civil society body “Community Action to Restore Lives” supported by OXFAM international was amongst selected groups that presented the letter of appeal to the World Bank. The main purpose of the meeting was to urge the World Bank President to fund public free quality education in developing poor countries rather than invest in Private for profit commercialized Education Programmes. Madiana has been on a series of panels with eminent personalities including the lobby for increased financing to the education sector under IDA19. IDA 19 funding negotiations is ongoing where low income countries are discussing with donors for an amount of $86 billion to fund projects for the next three years. Sierra Leone’s Financial Secretary is one of the 14 negotiators representing 77 IDA countries to raise the fund. “We are proud to have a citizen like Madam Samba’s civil society group that can openly lobby for her people and the government of Sierra Leone to ensure the rights of all children to enjoy education is respected,” said the World Bank President David Malpass. He added that the appeal by the Community Action to Restore Lives will be looked into considering the need for quality education in Sierra Leone so as to improve the human resource capacity of citizens.
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An especially serious problem that continues to plague education in Sierra Leone is the challenge of girls’ education. Although girls’ educational access is improving, class completion remains scarce with high dropout rates and consistently low enrollment in secondary school. Early pregnancy, gender-based violence, child marriage and cultural biases propagate the cycle of gender inequality. Sierra Leone has one of the world’s highest adolescent pregnancy rates, a phenomenon that is largely responsible for the high dropout rate among girls. Girls in Sierra Leone often get married as early as age 11, and more than 60 percent of girls throughout the country are married before the age of 18. Early marriage further hinders these girls’ abilities to pursue an education and gain independence. Shortages of facilities, supplies, and quality instructors have made it virtually impossible for all children to enrol in school, and a preference for boys’ education remains dominant. Girls are often instructed to stay home and perform domestic responsibilities while their brothers head to the classroom. While education in Sierra Leone still has a long way to go, the progress made so far by the Government in introducing free quality education has been encouraging, according to a 2018 world bank report.
By Saidu Bah
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