State House, Freetown, Tuesday 10 September 2019 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has launched the mobile library initiative, an idea of the Lunch Box, at State House and also encouraged pupils and students to improve on the culture of reading.
Delivering her statement, Founder of Lunch Box, Madam Memunatu Janneh, said she was inspired by the vision of President Bio and his New Direction Government to deliver free quality education to Sierra Leonean kids which, she said, would help to increase the literacy rate across the country.
She stated that they were working on the mobile library initiative to increase the level of reading among kids because reading was critical to education.
President of 50/50 Group, the country’s foremost non-partisan organisation advocating for increased political participation and equal representation of women in decision-making processes, Dr Fatou Taqi, said that the move presented a timely opportunity for civil society organisations and private partners to work in consonance with the government.
She said the free quality education was quite important as part of basic human right, adding that the initiative was needed to regain the lost culture of reading and reclaim the pathway for a better nation.
In his statement, President Julius Maada Bio said education for him was a passion because that was why the country was referred to as the Athens of West Africa, saying that although the country had fallen off the ladder it was now trying to take back its position. He said he had declared the free quality education as a national project that would require the support of everyone.
“But reading and comprehension matter. Children who read have more advanced cognitive skills, they are more successful in critical thinking and process information faster, they are higher achievers in later education,” he said.
He also stated that the mobile library platform was a laudable initiative that would provide access to reading materials for thousands of children, improve their development in education and augment the work of the Sierra Leone Library Board.
He said his opponents had doubted the free quality education in the first year of the government but noted that with 21 percent of the national budget dedicated to education so far, over two million kids were now in school. He added that the programme had also improved access to education irrespective of tribe, party, and gender.
The President also used the opportunity to comment on the recent public display in the centre of city of teachers with placards for alleged examination malpractices, amounting to corruption offences.
Whilst the President praised the new leadership of the Anti-Corruption Commission for the brilliant fight against corruption, he also described their latest action as wrong. He profoundly apologised on their behalf, noting that as President he was motivated to apologise as guardian of the constitution, the rule of law and to protect the rights of all citizens.
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