By Cyril Barnes
His Excellency, Dr Julius Maada Bio, has used the Global Education Summit 2021 platform to tell Sierra Leone’s story on Human Capital Development pursuit, pinpointing the government’s radical inclusion approach.
He shared the panel with colleague Presidents, who have also aspired to prioritise education by developing and implementing policies to boost the sector.
H.E Bio believed quality education was a fundamental human right, and his government had affirmed that Human Capital Development was a priority, adding that his goal was to ensure the inclusivity of Human Capital Development.
On overturning the 2010 policy of not allowing pregnant girls in school, the President noted his government was passionate to address the issues of gender disparity, certain norms and other forms of discrimination that had culminated in girls dropping out of school.
“When you think about the number of girls dropping out of school, it will be a failure to leave any girl behind. Our policy to overturn the ban on barring pregnant girls to school aimed at bridging the gender gap between boys and girls, giving girls the confidence and opportunity to pursue their dreams despite being pregnant,” H.E Bio stated.
President Bio went on to explain that over 2,000 pregnant girls were enrolled in 2020, revealing that what the policy did was to get rid of victimization on pregnant girls whilst raising awareness on early pregnancy, a campaign championed by Sierra Leone’s First Lady, Madam Fatima Bio.
In another development, the Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, who doubles as Chief Innovation Officer, Dr David Monina Sengeh, shared a platform with colleague ministers where he digressed on data analytics and the use of technology to develop the educational sector, making reference to Sierra Leone’s new SMS-based technology to check for National Primary School Examination (NPSE) results, which saves parents the cost and time. The Minister also spoke about the radical inclusion policy to ensure pregnant girls, as well as Persons With Disabilities (PWDs), were enrolled in school.
The Government of Sierra Leone has instituted progressive reforms to boost its educational sector, allocating 22% of its budget to Free Quality Education, which is the flagship program. Meanwhile, President Bio has reaffirmed his government’s commitment to increasing finance, expanding access, and promoting girl’s education for inclusive and sustainable development.
The Global Education Summit 2021 is co-hosted by UK Prime Minister, Boris Johnson, and Kenyan President, Uhuru Kenyatta. GPE’s “Raise Your Hand” is a 5-year financing campaign that aims to raise at least US$5 billion to support education systems in up to 90 countries and territories globally.