Save the Children and MBSSE launch Back to School Sierra Leone Brief
Heather Campbell Save the Children Country Director and Deputy Minister Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) Emily Gogra. Photo Credit Abdul Sillah SCI
On Wednesday June 9, 2021 Save the Children and Ministry of Basic Senior Secondary Education held a press conference to launch the Back to School Sierra Leone Brief, which highlights the impact of COVID-19 on learning and gives recommendations for government to protect every child’s right to learning in the COVID-19 response and recovery.
Present were Deputy Minister Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) Emily Gogra; Country Director, Save the Children, Heather Marie Campbell; Chief of Party for Global Partnership for Education, (GPE) Kalako Mondiwa, representing civil society partners , the media and; representatives from Children’s Forum Network.
In her statement, Heather recognized MBSSE for the progress made in education in recent years since the Ebola epidemic. She stated that the meeting was “a great opportunity to take a step back to review progress made since learning was interrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic in March, 2020.”
Over 2 million children had their learning disrupted for seven months after schools closed. According to the World Bank data from 2016, 82% of children completed primary school while 72% completed secondary school. Only 12 percent of children age 7-14 years of age have functional numeracy skills and 16 percent functional literacy skills.
Responding on progress made by MBSSE since COVID-19, Madam Gogra said that the Ministry had put in place an emergency preparedness plan at the onset to ensure all children return to school and stay in school. She talked frankly of the radical inclusive education policy which promotes equal access to education for visibly pregnant girls.
“A lot of people frowned at this, but still we continued to sensitize people on the importance of girls going back to school to ensure all children returned, were safe in school and able access learning.”
With the implementation of the Global Partnership for Education programme, the ministry and seven leading civil society organizations are working to improve access, quality and inclusiveness across the country. Through this partnership, they want to ensure a safe and sustainable return to school for all children by; identifying girls at risk of dropping out of school and providing incentives for mentorship; training teachers in COVID-19 school safety protocols to screen children and ensure proper personal protection; and keep learning alive through establishment of learning circles so that children can learn even during emergencies.
Recommendations to Government:
Highlighting the gaps, Heather requested that government and partners continue making progress in the national education agenda. She called for them to ensure Education Management Information Systems (EMIS) are operational to monitor attendance and drop-out rates of children; and for continued commitment to the declaration made at the Global Education Meeting, to increase the national education budget (20%) to achieve education for all children and; to ensure children are listened to and able to fully participate in decisions impacting them on education in line with the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child.