The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) has concluded a nationwide consultation on the first draft of the Education Bill, 2023 which seeks to provide a broad-based, accessible and relevant education for all children from pre-primary to senior secondary school.
Regional consultation took place in Kenema, Bo, Makeni, Port Loko and Freetown with students, teachers, school proprietors, civil society representatives, traditional leaders and other education stakeholders in the country.
The review of the 2004 Education Act will be looking at the structure of the country’s education system (6-3-3-4) to make provision for pre-primary (7-3-3-4 or 1-6-3-3-4), which means every child age 5, irrespective of physical and financial difficulties, guarantee one year pre-school funded by government.
The review will consider inclusive education that is disability-friendly, and encourage pregnant girls, parent learners, children from the poorest homes, and children in the rural area and underserved communities to stay in and complete school and enjoy all the facilities.
The review also considers the unauthorized establishment of schools which will attract fines.
A parent, including a guardian, who neglects to send their child/ward to school for basic education will commit an offense and shall be liable on conviction to a fine or imprisonment.
According to the MBSSE Chief Education Officer (CEO) Professor Yatta Kunu, the consultative meeting is to seek the views of stakeholders on all of the themes put together (some of which are stated above) in the draft of the 2023 Education Bill, adding that consultation is key in developing policy.
She said a lot of new development has taken place like the development of new policies, and national sector plans, adding that the 2004 Education Act has outlived its stay.
She said after the consultation, the team of consultants and the ministry’s leadership will meet and take a look and make a decision on which theme or themes should be modified or get rid of when putting the Act together.
The Lead Consultant in the review process Professor Joe A.D. Alie said since the existence of the 2004 Education Act, senior management of MBSSE and especially the CEO, Director of Policy and Planning and School Quality Assurance and Resource Mobilisation (SQARM) Director provided significant support, adding that education legislations from selected countries, policy documents and education and other sector plans from Ministries were carefully examined to provide the theoretical framework necessary for drafting the Bill.
“A validation workshop on the second draft will take place in Freetown following the regional consultations,” he said.