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Sierra Leone and China Hold First Ever Bilateral Ties on Basic Education Cooperation

The People’s Republic of China Vice Minister of Education Mr. Zheng Fuzhi today held a virtual meeting with Sierra Leone’s Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education Dr. David Moinina Sengeh with a goal of experience sharing. Areas of exchange included China’s distance education techniques, integration of technology in education, and other basic education-related topics.

The meeting took place virtually on Friday 15th October 2021, with the basic and senior secondary education leadership of both nations taking part including the Directors of Education.

The meeting strengthened Sierra Leone and China’s Bilateral Cooperation in basic education. This is the 50th anniversary of the diplomatic relations between China and Sierra Leone and this is the first Ministerial high-level bilateral meeting between both countries’ Ministries of basic and senior secondary education.

The goal of the meeting was to see how the two sides could explore the possibility of signing a joint cooperation agreement and Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) in basic education, including policy sharing, teacher training for Sierra Leone, providing online learning resources, and supporting Chinese language teaching in basic and secondary schools in Sierra Leone.

Both countries share a deep history, including a collaboration and cooperation in the face of Ebola and the COVID-19 pandemic. The countries have had teacher exchanges, students scholarships, higher and technical engagements, and now they are looking forward to strengthening the bond in basic education.

Mr. Zheng Fuzhi introduced China’s basic education policies and how China improved the quality of education with technology. He presented two technical ideas; one on basic education (universal and compulsory basic education) and another on the use of Information Communications Technology (ICT) in basic education particularly in remote areas.

“In China, we have compulsory education from pre-primary to primary which is nine years. The net enrollment rate is currently at 100% and retention is at 95.2%. This is achieved by removing miscellaneous fees and provision of textbooks and subsidies. It has been over 10 years of hard work,” he said.

He said China focused on equity in basic education which means ensuring that rural schools were given facilities and they had national supervision and accreditation at the local level, adding that they are now focusing on promoting quality through a curriculum design and the training of teachers.

The second part of China’s presentation was on ICT, noting that 100% of all primary schools in China have internet access, 98% have multi-media (computers, broadband internet) in their classrooms including rural classrooms.

China talked about developing teaching content to help teachers learn and all teachers in China are required to have computer-assisted teaching, adding that they have also developed ICT in line with the development platform using high caliber teachers, using television, and other things, particularly during COVID-19.

The Sierra Leone team was led by the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education Dr. Sengeh, with the Deputy Minister, Chief Education Officer, and Senior Permanent Secretary.

According to Dr. Sengeh, it was a highly successful meeting for Sierra Leone and he was able to learn from a country where programmes are developed for over 200 million students where Sierra Leone only has 2.6 million students.

“From Sierra Leone, I shared the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) approach, our policies, our curriculum work, and what we call the ‘5 Cs’ which are Critical thinking, comprehension, civics, computational thinking, and creativity,” he said.

The Minister talked about Sierra Leone’s effort via Giga in providing internet connectivity for schools.

“We are going to develop a joint education cooperation agreement with specific projects and timelines, and at the heart of that will be teachers training and teachers’ exchanges. We will continue to have technical engagements with open communication that will deepen the cooperation between the two countries. There will also be technical follow-up meetings for various people in the sector,” he said.

Augustine Sankoh
Strategic Communications Analyst, Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE).
Email: asankoh@education.gov.sl

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