By Augustine Sankoh
The Minister of Basic & Senior Secondary Education Mr. Conrad Sackey has described 2024 as the year of education in Sierra Leone after highlighting three key major activities that the nation will be benefiting from globally.
Minister Sackey made this disclosure during a meeting with the leadership of National Conference of Principals of Secondary Schools (NCPSS) on Thursday 4th January 2024 at the Ministry’s Headquarters in Freetown.
Firstly, he said the African Union has declared 2024 as the year of education in the continent which according to the minister is in line with Sierra Leone’s Free Quality School Education (FQSE).
A high-level segment was convened in July 2023, bringing together Africa’s Heads of State and Government, along with representatives from prominent organizations such as UNESCO, UNICEF, and WFP. The overarching goal was to define Africa’s strategic stance within the global movement for educational transformation.
The unveiling of the completed roadmap during the Heads of State and Government gathering is an eagerly anticipated milestone slated for February 2024. This unveiling is poised to mark the inception of a journey that will see the African Union’s strategic vision evolve into concrete actions, paving the way for a transformed educational landscape across the continent.
Secondly, he said Sierra Leone is privileged to be taking over the Chairmanship of West African Examination Council (WAEC) this year with a three years mandate, noting that the WAEC will be meeting in Sierra Leone in March and this is an opportunity for Sierra Leone to make the changes we desired in the WAEC system.
“During some of my public engagements I have noticed that public opinion about WAEC is not at the highest, and when I speak with principals is also not at the highest. We have an opportunity now to change WAEC not only in Sierra Leone but across West Africa,” he said.
He calls on the leadership of NCPSS to join forces with the MBSSE in making the changes that they want to see, adding that this is an opportunity to address the issue of scratch cards once and for all.
Lastly, the Minister said on January 24th Sierra Leone will join other nations in the world to celebrate International Day of Education under the theme “learning for lasting peace”. According to the Minister, this theme is very timely taking into consideration some of the challenges we have heard in our country around violence and conflict of the recent past.
He said this is an opportunity for us as Sierra Leoneans to reflect on where we have come from with 11 years of civil war when our learning infrastructures were destroyed with teachers leaving Sierra Leone for The Gambia and never returning.
“We don’t want to be taken to that era again, but we as leaders have a responsibility and a role to ensure that doesn’t happen,” he said.
Minister Sackey said he just wants to draw the attention of stakeholders in education as to why 2024 is very significant for Sierra Leone’s education sector.
Responding to concerns raised by CPSS, Minister Sackey reiterates government commitment to meet the demands of teachers and school authorities, and brought to the knowledge of NCPSS leadership that 99% of the Ministry’s budget is spent on recurrent expenditure which includes the payment of salaries, school fees subsidy, payment of public examination fees among others, noting that only 1% is available for capital expenditure.