Minister of Education, Science and Technology (MEST), Honourable Dr. Minkailu Bah has assured educationists that his ministry remains committed to improve the standard of education in the country.
Dr. Bah made the statement on Thursday 3rd August, 2017, whilst delivering the keynote address at the official opening of the Draft Education Sector Plan-ESP, for 2018-2020, in a two-day workshop held at the Golden Tulip Hotel (formerly Kimbima Hotel) in Freetown. The Minister acknowledged that the Education Sector Plan Finalization (2018-2020) seminar and the accredited theme, “Achieving Excellence in Service Delivery, Integrity and Learning in Sierra Leone.” focus on the provision of education for not only individuals, but the nation at large.
|Hon. Dr. Minkailu Bah
Dr. Bah noted that the ESP 2018-2020 is projected to be a transition document over the Ebola-driven 2014- 2018 ESP which exposes the weakness of the document; recalling months ago at the Bintumani Hotel. He recalled that frank deliberations were held over the Mid-Term Review workshop on the ESP that is now been cancelled, noting that participants recommended an updated ESP (2018-2020), to be developed which he said laid the foundation of the seminar.
The Hon. Minister made it clear that his Ministry and the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development (MoFED), together with partners have been working very hard since they last discussed ESP (2014-2018) to map out the demands of the document discussed. He continued that it throws light on tangible improvement in education with specific areas of intervention, namely: Access, equity and completion (Chapter 1), Quality and relevance (Chapter 2), System strengthening (Chapter 3); adding, which all aim at transforming learning outcomes, service delivery and integrity.
Hon. Dr. Bah mentioned some key challenges that cut across such as: the lack of quality schools, lack of teachers, overdue payment of subsidies, exams malpractices, illegal admission and the lack of text books to name but few. “I believe that this workshop should give more attention to the interventions and activities being proffered as solutions than to the challenges themselves. In this regard, I believe that we should focus on achieving excellence,” the Minister emphasized. The Education Minister made it clear that achieving education requires planning, dedication, willingness to learn, and above all integrity to the assigned responsibilities.
The Education Minister affirmed that this year’s entrance exams to tertiary institutions accounts for 20%, University requirements stand at 30% while the requirements for polytechnic and teachers training colleges are encouraging.
Permanent Secretary, Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Umaru Conteh, welcomed stakeholders, noting that the seminar marks an important event in the archives of Sierra Leone. He spoke about the essence of the seminar, pointing out that it addresses key areas for the way forward to improve on the quality of education in Sierra Leone.
Professor Gbamanja of the University of Sierra Leone (USL), gave a relevant contribution to the ESP, pointing out that the two shifts system in schools is one of the key factors that undermines the quality of education in Sierra Leone. He revealed that the University of Sierra Leone is revamping the tertiary education system by removing Certificate Programmes, adding that they are now focusing on Degree Programmes. “Diploma and other Certificate courses should be done in polytechnics and other education outlets,” the University Professor maintained. The Chief Education Officer of the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, Dr. Alhaji M. Kamara, stated that the ESP Finalization is a key venture undertaken by the ministry, noting that the interventions need financial support to ensure that there is a sustainable ESP 2018-2020. “Our priorities should not be ambiguous, but based on the limited resources at our disposal, and today’s discussion have gone through our partners and hence the workshop,” Dr. Kamara notes.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.