Parliament, Tower Hill, Freetown Tuesday 10 May 2022 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has exemplified human capital in development when he accounts, at the State Opening of Parliament, for the nexus between his education growing up and his vision to educate the country’s citizens
“I am before you today, the son of a mother who had no formal education, occupying the second-highest office of our country. I say the second because the office of the citizen is in fact the highest position of our nation and democracy — citizens who you all so ably represent. My commitment to the citizens of our country drives me and my government to give citizens the strongest tool to occupy that office: education. It is because of education I stand before you all. It is education that will liberate our citizens and empower them with the skills and tools for a healthy, productive, fulfilling life.
“I remember being moved upon hearing about the achievements of a student of Murialdo Catholic Secondary School in Lunsar, Marampa Chiefdom, Momoh Sankoh, who emerged not just as the best from the school but in the country, for the 2021 West African Senior School Certificate Examination, WASSCE. Behind the decision, I subsequently made to offer this outstanding student a 5-year university scholarship is my belief that education can change the fortunes of our kids and provide a future of unbounded hope. The gains of education may not seem immediately apparent to some, but the future is stolen from those who do not prepare for it today. Beneath every great nation and people lies a foundation that was laid yesterday.
“This is the foundation we seek to lay by making investments in education, mobilising additional funding to improve learning outcomes, expanding school feeding, improving school governance, building more school infrastructure, accelerating the use of technology and innovation in education delivery and governance, publishing developmentally appropriate learning resources and materials, and implementing a new school curriculum. And what a reward this policy direction has already started giving us. In 2021, over 600,000 additional children, especially girls, accessed schools; over 5,000 additional qualified teachers were recruited and received PIN codes; and we recorded a higher success rate in public examinations at all levels.
“My Government also introduced the best teacher award and new national policies on Radical Inclusion; School Feeding, Integrated Early Childhood Education, School Catchment Areas, and guidelines on the approval and use of school subsidies.
“It is often said that to educate a woman is to educate a nation. No nation that takes its future seriously can afford to ignore the education of its girls and women. For my government, this is non-negotiable. Record numbers of girls are now enrolled at all levels of education in this country. Ground-breaking numbers of girls are now opting to study STEM disciplines as our policy assures free STEM education for girls from Class 1 to the completion of university. Parents no longer resist sending their daughters to school. All across the country, they now believe that with tuition paid by my Government, teaching and learning materials provided by my Government; school feeding in most parts of the country provided by my Government; health care and good school infrastructure provided by my Government” – Parents now ask, “WHY NOT?”
“Other national initiatives by our First lady: ‘Hands Off Our Girls’ that assures comprehensive safety for girls in school and in their communities; ‘Campaign against Early and Child Marriage’ that ensures that our girls persist in, succeed in, and complete school; “Free Sanitary Pads” that removes the stigma of menstruation – now mean that little girls in villages as far adrift as Kurubonla, Koindu, Kamakwie, Sulima can now dream of being and will be doctors, nurses, engineers, lawyers, entrepreneurs and be all they want to be in a new Sierra Leone. That has always been my vision and that has always been my biggest bet – the future of Sierra Leone is female,” he concluded.
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