The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) with support from Global Partnership for Education (GPE), United Nation Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) has on Thursday 14th December at Taiama Chiefdom Moyamba District commissioned 29 new Early Childhood Education (ECD) Centres in the Karene and Moyamba Districts.
The commissioning marks a total of 59 ECD centres constructed so far and doubles up the support to boost early learning for children living in underserved districts which includes Pujehun, Kambia and Bombali. Over 2,000 children will be benefiting from newly constructed Early Childhood Development Centres in Karena and Moyamba Districts.
Each ECD centre has two classrooms (35 students per class), a playground, furniture and water sanitation and hygiene facilities and a solar powered borehole. Additionally, teaching and learning materials including locally made toys are provided (for a class of 35 students).
“The ECD programme complements the Free Quality School Education initiative and is in line with the Education Sector Plan (2018–2020), which focuses on improving access to equitable and quality education for every child in Sierra Leone,” said Mr Conrad Sackey, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education. “We are, indeed, grateful to our partners for the collective efforts and support to ensure every child in our country has access to quality education so that their potential could be realized to the fullest”.
Around 22 percent of children (170,000) aged 3 to 5 years are enrolled in early childhood education in Sierra Leone, while nearly 600,000 (78 per cent) are missing out on the critical opportunities for ECD which can help shape their cognitive, socio-emotional, and physical development, and future success.
“We must start to build the foundation for a child’s learning journey in their early years of life,” said Rudolf Schwenk, UNICEF Representative in Sierra Leone. “By investing in pre-primary education our aim is to expand universal and equitable access to quality Early Childhood Education, contributing to building the future for children and the human capital the country needs”.
As part of the programme, over 11,000 pre-school teachers were trained on Early Grade Reading and Early Grade Mathematics Assessment with support from the GPE. And about 220 educators are also being funded to deliver play and early stimulation activities along with curriculum on literacy and numeracy.
“We don’t have natural resources like other chiefdoms, all we have is education. We are hosting one of the biggest universities in the country (Njala University). For the government and partners to construct a pre-school in our chiefdom is welcoming and we will continue to commend the government and its partners for investing in Education,” according to the Taiama Chiefdom Speaker Mr. Peter Yambasu.
Strategic Communications Analyst MBSSE