At the UNESCO General Conference Policy Debate, in Paris France recently, Dr. David Moinina Sengeh told the Director General of UNESCO, other Ministers of Education across the world and Delegates at the conference that “during Covid, we introduced technologies for continuous learning including radio teaching right across Sierra Leone”.
Speaking on the UNESCO policy on “inclusive and equitable education and promote life long learning opportunities for all”, he said “In Sierra Leone, All means All”.
The Minister disclosed that during the COVID the government raise the budget of education to 22% and to get the kinds in line with their curriculum “ we introduced technologies for continuous learning including radio teaching right across Sierra Leone. We also introduced a set of mobile-based learning solutions on education services for anyone with a mobile phone.”
The impact of these technologies is that “these SMS and USSD solutions mean over 2 million citizens have interacted with our solutions till date”.
Furthermore the ministry introduced a free SMS and USSD dictionary to every student and mobile user in right across the country. Before this time, parents use to spend about Le100,000 and up to six weeks to access their exams results, but this, the Minister said has changed with the introduction of a free services as any parent can use their mobile phones anywhere across Sierra Leone to know how their children do in national exams.
On other technologies been used in the education sector? Dr Sengeh maintained that the country believes in benchmarks, evidence-based decision making and data and in that regard, it uses hybrid technologies.
On the radical inclusion Sierra Leone is using in line with the “All means all” objectives, he stated, with the experience from in 2014, it was anticipated that there will be high teenage pregnancy from school closures in Covid, many countries have recorded high teenage pregnancies as they preempted this, “we launched a policy on radical inclusion, opening classroom doors to children who become pregnant while in school and provide support to parent learners. We also expanded adult education classrooms in every chiefdom across Sierra Leone”
Adding that, the government provides learning materials to children in hard-to-reach areas and remote areas, and those from poor backgrounds. Also, “all children can attend school in Sierra Leone tuition free from pre-primary all through secondary education”.
And for female students in the STEM programme, and those with special need, they are guaranteed 17 years of tuition free education through higher end tertiary education.
Covid-19, he went on, may have destabilised the world in horrendous ways but it has also destabilised the status-quo. “We must use this moment to open our eyes and re-focus them on our shared global goal – on an inclusive and equitable quality education for all”.
The Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education thank UNESCO for the inauguration of the High-Level Steering Committee on which Sierra Leone serves and represents Africa, and that the country is committed to UNESCO with it’s effort to advocate for global education.
Minister Sengeh also pledge Sierra Leone’s commitment to the Paris Declaration and the call global call for investing in the futures of education to channel and power the future.