Refusing to send your child to school is now punishable by law according to the Basic and Senior Secondary Education Act 2023 which has just been passed into law by the Parliament of Sierra Leone.
The Bill entitled: ‘The Basic and Senior Secondary Education Act, 2023’ for the improvement of learning outcomes in the country, has also banned corporal punishment, gave private schools 6 months to meet the policy guidelines on school approvals and further ruled that government supports a year free compulsory pre-school education.
Most importantly, the new law ruled that pregnant girls, parent learners be encouraged to access, stay in and complete school.
The Bill seeks to restructure and reform the Basic and Senior Secondary Education system to make it free, accessible, compulsory, relevant, all-inclusive and rights-based, to improve the governance structure of the school system and to provide for other related matters.
The Bill went through three days of several consultations, intensive debates, and amendments before passage into law.
During previous Sittings and at the Committee of the Whole House, Hon. Mohamed B. Shaw, the Chairman of Basic Education Committee in Sierra Leone’s Parliament presented the Bill to the house for effective scrutiny and certain amendments to be adopted by Parliament before the passage of the Bill into law.
Members of Parliament of both sides of the divide commended the Bill and thanked the leadership of MBSSE for putting together such a progressive Bill.
The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education Dr Moinina David Sengeh thanked parliament for their support in ensuring that the Bill becomes an Act and also thanked them for the role they have played in Sierra Leone’s education transformation drive.
He highlighted the gains made by Sierra Leone in providing leadership in world’s education and thanked the President Julius Maada Bio for believing in Education.
More highlights in the new Act include:
In the case of epidemics and pandemics, mass vaccination of pupils and other preventive measures may be instituted by the government in schools.
A learning environment shall be conducive; physically and psychologically safe, free from all forms of violence and abuse and facilitates learning.
A pupil shall have a National Identification Number provided by the National Civil Registration Authority and a Unique Learner Identification Number issued by the Ministry which shall be used to track pupils and provide other reliable information on them.
Schools, including private schools, shall be inclusive and disability friendly, by making sure that all classrooms and facilities are accessible to all categories of learners.
Pregnant girls, parent learners, children from the poorest homes, rural areas and underserved communities shall be encouraged to access, stay in, complete school and enjoy all the facilities provided in the school.
The Ministry may use a different assessment other than the National Primary School Examination to support transition and placement into junior secondary school.