The European Union (EU) has launched a three-year programme in support of the education sector in the country, with a budget of €29 million.
In a joint press release issued on March 7, by the government and the EU delegation to Sierra Leone, in State House, a memorandum of understanding was signed by the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, the Ministry of Finance and Economic Development and the EU Delegation to Sierra Leone.
President Koroma announced that that day marked an important milestone in the development cooperation between the government and people of Sierra Leone and the people of the European Union,as they were assembled to launch the EU Support Programme to the education sector in the country the 11th European Development Fund (EDF).
“I am very delighted to note that the European Union, which is Sierra Leone’s most steadfast development partner, is investing EUR 29 million in the education sector for the first time in our development cooperation,” he said.
The Minister of Education Science and Technology, Dr Minkailu Bah,said that was the first time over a decade that the EU was providing direct and major support to the education sector.
“The support will allow us to deliver on several important strategic objectives detailed in our Education Sector Plan (ESP) – Learning to Succeed and the education section of the Agenda For Prosperity. The support also comes at just the right time as we transition from ‘recovery’ back to ‘development,” Dr. Bah said.
Head of the EU Delegation to Sierra Leone, Peter Versteeg, said there remain a huge challenge to overcome and to provide for all children and young people with education and skills needed to live a productive live
“There remain many challenges to overcome and to provide all children and young people in this country with the education and skills they need to live their lives productively, to find jobs that provide for their future and to be informed and responsible citizens. The EU stands ready to join forces with the Government to take on these challenges,” he said.
According to the release, the EU programme to support the education sector in Sierra Leone was financed under the 11th European Development Fund (EDF) and aims at providing children with equitable access to high quality learning in Sierra Leone, in line with national education policies and targets.
The release said the EU would work in partnership with the Ministry of Education Science and Technology, the Teacher Service Commission, among others to strengthen the management of the education system, improve primary school teaching and learning, increase equitable access to secondary education and improve management and delivery of technical and vocational education.
The release further stated that education was one of the key sectors of concentration for EU cooperation with Sierra Leone, in addition to governance & civil society, agriculture & food security, as well as infrastructure.
“Overall funding under the partnership between the EU and the Government of Sierra Leone from 2014 to 2020 amounts to a total of €376 million,” the release stated, adding that “This comes in addition to opportunities for regional economic integration under the EU regional programme for West Africa, which will bring on stream some €1.15 billion for the region.”
According to the statement, the EU remained to be one of the main development partners of the Government of Sierra Leone and, together with its Member States, the world’s leading aid donor, providing more than half of the total official development assistance.