Executive Director of the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, UNICEF, Catherine Russel, has praised His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio for increasing access to education for children and committed to deepening the relationship with Sierra Leone.
During a bilateral meeting on the margins of the Transforming Education Pre-Summit at the UNESCO Headquarters, she assured the President of using the global UNICEF network to leverage partnerships with various stakeholders to support education in the West African nation.
On President Bio’s achievements in education, Catherine Russel said: “It takes true leadership and vision. Your people are lucky to have a leadership like yours who is passionate about education”.
In response, President Bio said that he identified education as the most important element for sustainable development. He explained his motivation to implement the Free Quality Education Programme and highlighted the various components of the programme including payment of tuition fees, payment of transitional examination fees, provision of core textbooks, teaching and learning materials, school feeding and free tuition for girls pursuing courses in the Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Math, STEM, at tertiary level.
He mentioned his radical inclusion policy which had benefited pregnant girls, children living with disability and supported the distribution of sanitary pads to girls in schools. He called on the UNICEF Executive Director to support Sierra Leone in consolidating the many gains the country had made in education.
“We want to continue to improve the quality of education. We also want to continue to be very robust in making education inclusive in Sierra Leone,” President Bio said.
Later, His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio also held productive bilateral meetings with the Dr. Tariq Al Gurg, the Chief Executive Officer of Dubai Cares, to explore sustainable partnership and support for the education sector in Sierra Leone and Anne-Birgitte Albrectsen, Chief Executive Officer for LEGO Foundation, a Denmark-based philanthropic foundation dedicated to building a future where learning through play empowers children to become creative, engaged, lifelong learners.