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News around Africa - Profiles - August 23, 2018

Sierra Leone President declares education free for primary and secondary children

Sierra Leone President, Julius Maada Bio has declared free education for 1.5 million primary and secondary school children; fulfilling one of his campaign promises when he was still a presidential aspirant.

“Free education will be introduced effective September 2018 for all primary and secondary schools to improve access to quality education,” President Bio told the state opening of parliament, to thunderous applause.

“I promised free education during the election and I’m here to implement it.” President Bio also added that he would donate three of his monthly salaries to fund the scheme.

A special telephone hotline has been set up in case people had any complaints about the implementation of the scheme.

Bio who took office in April said that the state would cover tuition fees and teaching materials. He also threatened to fine or jail parents who do not send their wards to school.

“I encourage parents and guardians to provide uniform, shoes and continue their traditional role of home supervision and coaching,” he said.

Bio called on “development partners and the private sector to support our free education initiative for the development of the country. Education is a fundamental right for all Sierra Leoneans.”

He also announced a near doubling — from 11 to 20 per cent — of the education sector’s annual budgetary allocation.

“Free university education will be provided for three children of every school teacher with ten years’ experience,” he said, adding that a student loan scheme would be introduced as well as special incentives for science and rural based teachers.

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