Our Goal is to Achieve Zero Out-Of-School-Children in Sierra Leone, President Bio Says.

By Cyril Barnes, Information Attaché, Sierra Leone Embassy, State of Kuwait

Sierra Leone’s President, His Excellency Dr Julius Maada Bio, has re-echoed his government’s objective to achieve zero Out-of-School Children by continuing to invest in the Free Quality Education programme for Sierra Leone.

His Excellency Dr Julius Maada Bio made this disclosure during his meeting with the Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development in Doha. 

He thanked the Foundation for the opportunity to meet and speak about shared interests in education. Recalling four months into his presidency, the President prioritized education and launched the Free Quality Education programme, realizing that investing in human capital was pivotal to developing the nation. 

He added that the primary objective of the Free Quality Education was to cater for free tuition; however, the scope was broadened to provide school feeding, free transportation, core textbook, teaching and learning materials and radical inclusion to break the barriers to children acquiring quality education. 

“My government identified education as the key to inclusive and sustainable national development; we have initiated radical inclusion to provide access to education for pregnant girls, learners with disabilities and the poor to go to school. 

“Our goal is to achieve the zero Out -Of-School-Children. My government has conducted a study on Out-of-School children and will launch a strategy to handle the problem. The strategy will inform how, as a nation, we tackle this crisis and further work to 100% access to education for all learners,” the President said. 

He ended by calling for partnerships to ensure access to quality education globally. 

Speaking about her role in boosting the self-esteem of the girl child, Her Excellency the First Lady, Madam Fatima Maada Bio, disclosed that her duty during these four years has been primarily to encourage the girl child to acquire education despite the posing challenges. She furthered that the objective was to inspire them to contribute to nation-building. 

Responding to the His Excellency the President’s inspirational presentation, Dr Mazen Jassim Jaidah of Qatar Foundation noted that Sierra Leone and the State of Qatar had shared aspirations of providing quality education for all. He revealed that Qatar Foundation created the foundations for education, research, development, and innovation; and would continue its journey to make a positive impact, locally and internationally. 

Mr. Fahad Al-Sulaiti, CEO of Education Above All Foundation, thanked the President for providing the political will to support quality education, adding that they had been working with Sierra Leone’s Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education to provide support for approximately 45,000 Out-Of-School-Children (OOSC) in Sierra Leone at an estimated cost of $4 million. He also pointed out that the two governments signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) for the commencement of the project during the Doha Forum in March 2022. 

He assured the President of their commitment to ensuring Sierra Leone achieve the zero Out-Of-School-Children goal in partnership with the World Bank, UNESCO, UNICEF and other development partners.

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SLCA, PALS Engage 150 Participants on Softball and Baseball.

To bolster the work of batsmen and to improve overall cricket performance, the Sierra Leone Cricket Association (SLCA) partnered with the Philadelphia Adults League Softball (PALS) to engage over one hundred and fifty participants drawn from different backgrounds and age brackets on the basics of softball and baseball.

Early this week at the Kingtom Oval, the SLCA received 18 officials from PALS of which 15 come from America and 3 from Bolivia to conduct joint training on softball and baseball.

The delegation donated cricket equipment to SLCA to enhance the Association’s preparation ahead of four cross-border tournaments and to strengthen the existing ties between the two institutions.

Speaking during the training, the Chairman of SLCA, Francis Trevor Samura, said holding exercises on the basics of softball and baseball serves to introduce a new sport in Sierra Leone. “And for us in cricket, the baseball is very important. Once one is able to play baseball, one should be able to be a better batsman. The difference between the cricket bat and that of the baseball bat is that the baseball bat is round whilst the cricket one is flat, so one needs high concentration, timing and good sight to hit the baseball.  Once one is able to get these skills right, one should be able to be a better cricketer,” he explained.

Thrilled by its novelty and its skill-packed movements, the enthralled attendees vowed to keep the games playing even after the departure of the strangers.

Addressing participants,  PALS Directors, Kelly O’ Connor and Steve O’Connor, promise to give their all to see Softball and Baseball play in order to contribute positively to the development and empowerment of youths in the country.

“ We run a Softball league in the United States, and we are here partnering with different organizations to roll out the Softball and Baseball programmes for young people to first get involved by having fun trying a new sport and learning something new, but also to teach them more about Softball and Baseball. The goal is to have it as a long term programme, so we are working with the Sierra Leone Cricket Association and some football clubs. We will be providing training resources and equipment so that these programmes will be sustainable, “ Kelly O’Connor said. 

The programme climaxed with donations of cricket equipment and school materials for kids.

© SLCA Media and IT Department

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ACC Partner with Advocate for Social Justice in Kono.

ACC and ASJD staff after the engagement

In its drive to enhance integrity in the management of public funds and public procurement processes, the Kono Regional Office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has engaged staff of the Advocate for Social Justice and Development(ASJD), a non-governmental organization (NGO) based in Kono, on anti-corruption laws and best practices in the management of public and donor funds. The event took place at the ASJD conference room in Koidu on 21st June, 2022.

 

The customized meeting, according to the ACC Regional Manager, Hawanatu Omotayo Kamara, was to engage and educate the ASJD staff on various issues of corruption and to ensure best practices in their operations. She also noted that the engagement will serve as a platform to map out areas of collaboration in identifying corruption risks and vulnerabilities as well as mitigating same. The Manager stated that corruption is a sensitive issue in the NGO world, something that requires a clear understanding to determine its true scale, nature, effects on service delivery and ways to prevent it.

Explaining the mandate of the Commission in the fight against corruption, Senior Public Education Officer Sam P Gogra,expressed dismay that most times NGOs, contractors and suppliers are often reluctant to talk about corruption for fear that it will lead to bad publicity, unavailability of contracts, and consequent  loss of funds. According to him, such funds secured for and on behalf of the people of Sierra Leone are public funds and by extension their activities and operations are covered by the ACC laws. 

Mr Gogra stated that the fight against graft is not done in a fire brigade manner and it therefore requires the need to engagethem on various issues of corruption and for them to institute anti-corruption measures whiles implementing donor projects. 

Commenting on key corruption issues in public procurement and activities of his organisation, the Executive Director of ASJD Arthur Kargbo, thanked the ACC for partnering with them to fight corruption. According to him, their office has codes and anti-corruption policies in their internal operations. He said that their partnership with the ACC will give credence to their activities in the district and can also help them act as whistleblowers for corruption activities within their operational areas.

Mr Kargbo said that their activities are based on development and they have been operating in Kono District and beyond on education, health and mining, to ensure transparency and accountability in service delivery. He said that they often follow best practices to procure goods and services. He registered his office’s support to the activities of the ACC.

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ACC Convey Integrity Messages to School Pupils on Day of African Child.

Pupils from various schools at the engagement

By Alex A. Bah – Communications Officer, ACC

The Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has on 16th June, 2022, engaged over pupils from various schools in the Western Area in commemoration of the Day of the African Child. The engagement took place at the Cathedral Hall in Freetown and it brought together members of Integrity Clubs set up by the ACC in schools, teachers and school authorities to discuss issues of integrity, examination malpractices, among others

Giving the welcome address, Deputy Commissioner of the ACC, Augustine Foday Ngobie, gave a brief history of the day, noting that the children of South Africa were very instrumental in taking action against injustice and bad governance, which are the upshot of corruption. “You are expected to stand up for what is right, no matter the consequence,” he said whilst encouraging the pupils to support the anti-corruption cause. 

Chairing the occasion, Director of Public Education and External Outreach, Patrick Sandi, encouraged the pupils to commit themselves to the cause of fighting corruption. He noted that poverty is never an incentive to engage in corruption, and that a person can be rich and still be corrupt.

There was a panel discussion on the topic ‘The Impact of Examination Malpractices on the Attainment of Quality Education: Ways Forward’ moderated by journalist Samuel Wise Bangura of the AYV Television. 

During the panel discussion, Jammie Victoria Sankoh, Public Relations Manager of the Teaching Service Commission, described integrity as a personal value, adding that low salaries should never be an incentive for corruption. “We have grown up seeing teachers that earn way less than what most teachers earn now, yet they prided themselves in upholding integrity, while at the same time they respected the code that guides their profession,” she added.

“If we uphold the values of integrity, then we can eliminate examination malpractices,” Tamba Deen Kamara, Head of Communications, Civil Rights Coalition, also noted whilst underscoring the dangers of examination malpractice and the importance of sanitizing the education sector. 

A question and answer session climaxed the engagement.

L-R: Tamaba Deen Kamara, Head of Communications, Civil Rights Coalition; Jammie Victoria Sankoh, Public Relations Manager, Teaching Service Commission; Antoniette Horton, Principal, JSS, Annie Walsh Memorial School; Augustine Foday Ngobie, Deputy Commissioner, ACC; Patrick Sandi, Director, PEOD, ACC; Samuel Wise Bangura, of AYV Television

 

Deputy Commissioner, ACC, Augustine Foday Ngobie, giving the welcome address

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29 Early Childhood Development Centres to be Constructed in two Districts.

By Augustine Sankoh, Strategic Communications Analyst, MBSSE

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) with support from the United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will be constructing twenty-nine (29) Early Childhood Development (ECD) Centres in Karene and Moyamba Districts.

According to Mr. Emmanuel Alie, the National Coordinator Global Partnership for Education, 20 0f these centres will be constructed in Karene and the remaining 9 in Moyamba District.

He said evaluation and assessment of bids is in progress by UNICEF which is the grant agent.

He said last year in September, MBSSE completed the construction of 30 new ECD centres in three districts (Bombali, Pujehun and Kambia) in Sierra Leone which according to him open doors to an estimated 2,100 children that benefitted. 

The ECD landscape in Sierra Leone has been fraught with challenges and poor outcomes. Sierra Leone has one of the highest maternal, new-born and under five mortality rates, stunting, high rates of poverty, and poor learning outcomes globally. 

The current government’s commitment to human capital development, enables the country to achieve middle income status by 2035; it is necessary for governments to prioritizeinvestment in ECD. The development of a clear policy framework to provide directions and guidance for structuring equitable access to quality ECD cannot be overemphasized.

This national Integrated Early Childhood Development (IECD) policy provides an overarching framework with shared vision, mission, goals, and objectives for the delivery of holistic ECD interventions and services for all children ages 0 to 8 years; and ensures that all Sierra Leonean children have the best start in life and are able to achieve their full potential.

Early Childhood Development is about the overall wellbeing and welfare of a child as it encompasses the child’s cognitive, language, social, emotional, and motor development. Early Childhood Development (ECD) is recognized as a critical foundation for fostering positive lifelong outcomes, human capital development and sustainable national development.

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