14th December 2018
54 Peace Corps Volunteers to Propel the Sierra Leone Free Education Agenda!
By a press release (01/09/18)
The arrival of fifty-four Peace Corps volunteers in Sierra Leone to promote the SLPP government's Free Education agenda is excellent news.
Reports say the 54 Peace Corps volunteers jetted in Freetown last week to give their support to the free quality education programme launched by President Julius Maada Bio much to the delight and appreciation of Sierra Leoneans, especially the poor and downtrodden in society. (Photo: Foreign Minister Alie Kabba flanked by the 54 Peace Corps in Freetown).
The Peace Corps volunteers from the United States, all dressed in traditional clothes, are reportedly specialised in various disciplines in mathematics, science, technology and entrepreneurship.
The Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation Alie Kabba was around to welcome the US volunteers and officially monitored the swearing in ceremony of the Peace Corps including men and women.
Sierra Leone recently launched the free education programme by the Sierra Leone President Bio for 1.5 million primary and secondary school children starting from September school term, thus fulfilling one of his key election pledges.
"I promised free education during the election and I'm here to implement it," the Sierra Leone President Bio said during an official launch ceremony. While no financial details were provided about the overall cost of the scheme, President Bio has promised to donate three of his monthly salaries to it.
Bio took office in early April after a tumultuous election campaign, ending a decade-long rule by the All People's Congress (APC). The president said that the state would cover tuition fees and teaching materials and warned that parents would be fined or even jailed if they did not send their children to school. (Photo below: Education Minister Alpha Timbo speaking as President Bio listens).
"I encourage parents and guardians to provide uniforms, shoes and continue their traditional role of home supervision and coaching," President Bio said. A special telephone hotline has been set up in case people had any complaints about the implementation of the scheme.
The President noted: "I appealed to 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."
Despite vast mineral and diamond deposits, Sierra Leone is one of the world's poorest countries and half of the population over 15 is illiterate, according to a UNESCO 2015 Report. The country's economy remains fragile and corruption is widespread, which the SLPP government is determined to tackle.
Sierra Leone is trying to recover from the social and economic fallout from a long civil war, and more recently, an outbreak of Ebola which killed over 4,000 people in 2014.