The two Ministers of Education of Sierra Leone have lauded the efforts of President Julius Maada Bio in promoting human capital development in Sierra Leone, especially in the education sector.
Speaking at the weekly press conference of the Ministry of Information and Civic Education the two Education Ministers dilated on the efforts of President Bio to boost education in the country.
Minister of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE), Dr. Haja Ramatulai Wurie said that President Julius Maada Bio led Sierra Leone People’s Party government believes in transparency and fairness in the award of the government Grant-in-Aid or SLG and other scholarships.
She emphasized government’s commitment to transparency and fairness in the scholarship selection process, adding that measures have been put in place to strengthen the system and ensure that scholarships are awarded on merit and need.
She disclosed that students across the country were given equal opportunity to submit their Grant-in-Aid applications to the Ministry’s online portal system. The MTHE revealed that 14,160 applications were received from the 16 districts, and interviews were conducted at district level from 11th -22nd July, 2023.
Dr. Wurie also shed light on President Bio’s commitment in providing access to higher education for all Sierra Leoneans, by enhancing the capacity of students with the right knowledge and skills to address the socioeconomic needs of the country and to contribute to achieving the SDG to ensure inclusive and equitable, quality education and promoting life-long learning opportunities.
“Government has addressed the issue of subventions for higher education institutions with financial support to universities and colleges,” Dr. Wurie said. “There are various scholarship programs available, such as merit-based scholarships, needs-based, and scholarships for under-represented groups,” she revealed.
The MTHE divulged that there are two types of Sierra Leone Grant-in-Aid – one for local studies and another for international scholars. She highlighted the international scholarships that have been awarded this year – Chinese Scholarship Council (CSC) donated 20 scholarships, China (MOFCOM) donated 127 scholarships and China Africa 7 scholarships; Hungary 47 scholarships; Russia (People’s Friendship University (RUDN) donated 16 scholarships; Morocco 10; Greece (European Union) 10; State of Kuwait 4 and Algeria 4.
Minister Wurie informed the public that in the 2024/25 academic year, the Russian Federation will train Sierra Leonean doctors at the National Research Centre of Traumatology and Orthopedic of the Ministry of Health of the Russian Federation in Russia.
Talking about the eligibility criteria of awarding countries, Minister Wurie said there is a scope of negotiation with field of study that is linked to the national development agenda, gender and inclusivity of persons with disability, adding that scholarship packages vary from country to country, with some more attractive than others.
She referred the public to the Ministry’s website, www.mthe.gov.sl where they publish information that has to do with the Ministry and also their Facebook page – Ministry of Technical and Higher Education Sierra Leone.
Giving a brief overview of his Ministry’s achievements, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education Mr. Conrad Sackey, said the government spends a whooping 22 percent of its budget on education. He said the strategic objective of the MBSSE is the training and recruiting of teachers nationwide, revealing that preference was given to female teachers during the last recruitment process.
Minister Sackey dilated on strengthening governance and accountability in the education sector which he said has been the hallmark of the MBSSE. “As a result of that we were able to grab a World Bank funding to the tune of $900,000,” he said.
Alphonso Manley from the Civil Society Organization also commended President Bio’s Free Quality Education program, saying that it is a testament to his commitment to nation building. He said the radical inclusion policy which includes embracing disadvantaged girls in the education sector has been the center stage of rapid progress in the sector over the last five years of President Bio led SLPP government.