Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Dr. Ramatulai Wurie has assured the Secretary-General of UNESCO and representatives of member countries of Sierra Leone’s commitment to partnering with the organisation to improve the educational sector.
She made this assurance Friday 10th November in Paris during UNESCO’s 42nd General Conference.
Delivering her statement, Dr. Wurie informed the conference of the progress Sierra Leone has made in fostering education over the past five years, revealing that Sierra Leone’s commitment to the sector has resulted in the allocation of 21% of the national budget to fund the Free Quality Education, which was one of the priority projects of His Excellency the President.
She dilated on “Inclusive and Quality Education for All”, a radical inclusion policy which provides an opportunity for children particularly, pregnant girls to go to school.
These policies, she re-echoed, have removed the financial and cultural barriers at primary and secondary level, leading to increased enrollment, reduced dropout rates and prioritized historically marginalized groups, including pregnant girls, parent learners, children living with disabilities, rural and low-income children.
“We also continually improve teaching methods, curriculum review, including Civic Education for cultural preservation, social cohesion and youth empowerment,” she said.
And with the initiation of the education fund aiming to provide consistent and reliable financial support to the higher education sector, she noted the fund would not only serve as a means of financing, but also as crucial resource toFriday 10th November support ongoing quality improvements, with quality indicators linked with national, regional and international benchmarks.
The Technical and Higher Education Minister further explained about the Student Loan Scheme, stating that the scheme was introduced to establish sustainable financing for access, which began with a successful pilot phase for postgraduate students under a dedicated secretariat, adding “this scheme is now extending its reach to benefit undergraduates and vocational students”.
On digital transformation, which is a catalyst for the forthcoming digital transformation and to accommodate the increasing demand for Higher Education institutions, Dr. Wurie said certain measures where put in place which included the development of a National policy on Open and Distance Learning (ODL).
Similarly, the development of a National Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI) Policy was developed in 2022, with support from the UNESCO SIDA initiative on strengthening STI Systems in Africa.
Dr. Wurie added: “The UNESCO Korea Better Education for Africa’s Rise (BEAR) project in Sierra Leone will support our efforts, specifically focusing on the agriculture sector, a sector we have identified as a priority.”
As Sierra Leone been a major player in the education global education plan with the former Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, now Chief Minister, Dr. David Sengeh was Co-Chair of SDG 4 High-Level Steering Committee, while His Excellency President Julius Maad Bio was Co-Chair of the Leaders Group of the Transforming Education Summit, the Minister stated that she was looking forward to a collaborative efforts with UNESCO to making education a catalyst for progress and a brighter future.
The minister spoke about the importance of middle manpower as the country has dedicated to further strengthening the Technical Vocational Education Training (TVET) sector to enhance the job market preparedness of our youth and drive socio-economic growth. “Our approach will emphasize collaboration, particularly through Public-Private Partnerships.
In his opening remarks, the Director -General of UNESCO Audrey Azoulay mentioned that environment and digital technology are very crucial to UNESCO, citing that UNESCO is playing a key role in environmental protection by designating sites and protect them: World Heritage sites, Biosphere Reserves, Global Geoparks – which are hotspots for biodiversity, as their studies show clearly.
She echoed that Technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), has so much potential if the pitfalls could be avoided for which there was need for collective reflection.