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Sierra Leone

Improving Access to Secondary School (SL0023)

Overview

At-a-Glance

Action Plan: Sierra Leone Action Plan 2019-2021

Action Plan Cycle: 2019

Status: Active

Institutions

Lead Institution: Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education

Support Institution(s): Ministry of Basic and Secondary School Education, Office of the Coordinator – Free Quality Education Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Information and Communications, Ministry of Lands, Teaching Service Commission, Attorney General and Ministry of Justice Office, Parliamentary Committee on Primary Education, Cabinet Secretariat, CSOs Coordination group in Education, Sierra Leone Teachers Union, Education For All Coalition, Budget Advocacy Network, Nacot, Open Data Council

Policy Areas

Education, Public Service Delivery

IRM Review

IRM Report: Sierra Leone Design Report 2019-2021

Starred: Pending IRM Review

Early Results: Pending IRM Review

Design i

Verifiable: Yes

Relevant to OGP Values: Pending IRM Review

Potential Impact:

Implementation i

Completion: Pending IRM Review

Description

What is the public problem that the commitment will address?
Access Equity and completion – Some of the major
challenges within the education sector in Sierra Leone are
access to schools and school completion. School census
reports over the years reveal that only 82% of children of
primary school going-age actually access primary
education. Out of this cohort, only about 29% go on to
complete senior secondary school. Various factors are
responsible for this result, ranging from limited access to
schools in some locations to teenage pregnancy, poverty,
etc. There is a stark disproportionality in the number of
primary schools to that of junior secondary schools. Many
pupils graduating from primary schools cannot access
junior secondary schools or are forced to drop out of junior
secondary schools when they move to different locations.
This movement away from home and families is largely
responsible for the school drop-out rate, especially in rural
areas. Exacerbating the problem in the education sector
is the issue of integrity. Examination malpractice
especially in the conduct of public examinations has
become pervasive and endemic. This has the tendency to
undermine the quality of learning and invariably has a
direct consequence on learning outcomes.

What is the commitment?
The commitment will ensure that pupils have access to
Junior Secondary Schools in their localities, thereby
affording them the opportunity to live with their families
whilst in school and eventually eliminating the challenges
they would likely face if schooling away from home and
which contribute largely to their dropping out. The
commitment will ensure that there is an increase in
access to Junior Secondary Schools, increase in
retention and eventually completion rates.
This will invariably lead to increase in retention rates as
well as in completion rates. It will also contribute to more
improved learning environments and eventually lead to
improvement in learning outcomes.

How will the commitment contribute to solving the public problem?
This commitment will improve access, quality and
completion by increasing educational resources in
remote areas. In particular, the commitment will increase
the availability of teachers and educational materials to
those who need it most at primary and junior secondary school levels. Creating incentives for qualified teachers
to provide their services in remote areas improves the
overall quality of education throughout the country.
These efforts will ultimately improve student performance
throughout the country.

Why is this commitment relevant to OGP values?
Improving public services – The commitment will
improve public service delivery in the education sector
Effective management of public resources- Promote
transparency and accountability
This commitment is relevant for the following but not
limited to them:
 Demonstrate transparency and accountability in
the use of the 21% budget allocated to education
 Addresses two grand challenges which are;
improving public service and effective
management of public resources.
 Help government to meet national and
international targets and protocols from EFA and
the Sustainable Development Goal 4 as priority to
fulfil the growing need for skilled labour in the
workplace and leveraging on civic engagement on
free quality education

Additional Information:
The Government of Sierra Leone has committed 21% of
its annual budget to the education sector. As part of
attainment of its vision of an appropriately educated,
entrepreneurial and innovative citizenry, who are
tolerant, productive and internationally competitive, the
government’s Education Sector Plan 2018-2020 commits
to providing opportunities for children and adults to
acquire knowledge and skills, as well as nurture attitudes
and values that help the nation grow and prosper.
The Free Quality School Education (FQSE), launched by
the Government of Sierra Leone in 2018 aims to greatly
reduce the illiteracy level in the country, especially
among girls. The programme includes provision of
subsidies to schools to cover school fees, free school
materials to all children, and school feeding for children
in deprived communities.

IRM Midterm Status Summary

2. Education

Main Objective

The commitment will ensure that pupils have access to Junior Secondary Schools in their localities, thereby affording them the opportunity to live with their families whilst in school and eventually eliminating the challenges they would likely face if schooling away from home and which contribute largely to their dropping out. The commitment will ensure that there is an increase in access to Junior Secondary Schools, increase in retention and eventually completion rates. This will invariably lead to increase in retention rates as well as in completion rates. It will also contribute to more improved learning environments and eventually lead to improvement in learning outcomes.

Milestones

  • Increase transition level from primary to junior secondary school by 9 percent
  • Recruitment and deployment of 5000 teachers across the country, especially in remote areas
  • Increase equitable access to senior secondary education by 3 percent
  • Payment of remote allowances to qualified teachers in rural communities
  • Provision of core textbooks to all children in government and government-assisted schools

Editorial Note: For the complete text of this commitment, please see Sierra Leone’s action plan at (https://bit.ly/3bPiqwh).

IRM Design Report Assessment

Verifiable:

Yes

Relevant:

Unclear

Potential impact:

Minor

Commitment Analysis

This commitment aims to increase access, retention, and eventually completion rates in Sierra Leone’s junior secondary schooling system. [17] Enrollment and completion rates for primary, junior secondary, and senior secondary school in Sierra Leone were all severely impacted by the effects of the civil war, an Ebola outbreak, and various other natural and manmade disasters. [18] While enrollments improved by approximately 30 percent over the last decade, [19] completion rates remain moderate to disappointing and reflect gender and regional disparities. [20]

A number of factors contribute to low enrolment in the secondary schooling phase and overall completion rates. Poverty is a significant barrier to accessing education, as parents cannot afford to pay school fees, [21] the lack of schools in certain localities requires children to move away from their parents to attend school, [22] and traditional beliefs on gender roles strongly influence the schooling of girls. [23] The provision of pedagogical materials also remains a challenge, with the latest School Census showing that in some lower grades up to four learners may need to share a textbook. [24] Rampant examination malpractice has also impacted on the integrity of schooling in Sierra Leone. [25] The system employs some 83 000 teachers in mission schools, private providers, communities and the government, [26] but the majority are poorly paid.

The commitment envisages that increasing educational resources in remote areas—by creating incentives for qualified teachers to work in remote localities and providing educational materials to those who need it most at primary and junior secondary levels—will improve student performance throughout Sierra Leone. [27]  The commitment is of unclear relevance to OGP values.

In 2017, only 67 percent of pupils completed primary schooling, 49 percent completed junior secondary schooling, and a mere 20 percent of pupils passed the West African Senior School Certificate Exam. [28]

At the time the commitment was designed, the new administration had made Free Quality School Education (FQSE), a cornerstone of its human capital development policy. [29] Following commencement of FQSE in September 2018, the Annual School Census 2019 showed that junior secondary enrollments increased by 136,000 (an additional 43.2 percent); and senior secondary enrolments increased by 99,000 (an additional 47.9 percent). [30] However, the enrollment rates for junior secondary schooling still only represent 77 percent of the eligible population, and for senior secondary schooling, only 56.5 percent of the eligible population. [31] The new administration has made headway in busting organized principal and teacher cheating syndicates and dealing with the problem of ghost teachers on the system. [32]

If fully implemented as written, the potential impact of this commitment is expected to be minor. The commitment is verifiable, with clearly identifiable and measurable milestones and activities. Recruiting an additional 5,000 teachers and incentivizing them to work in remote areas, and providing educational materials will increase access to education. But it will not address the lack of schools in certain localities, which is a key factor in junior secondary drop-out rates. The commitment also fails to address the issue of examination malpractice, which affects completion rates. While the FQSE has achieved some initial success in terms of improved enrollments, in the next action plan government and civil society could consider interventions relating to the integrity of the examination process, such as the release of non-sensitive metadata on disciplinary measures taken against principals, teachers, and students found to have engaged in examination malpractice.

[17] Sierra Leone’s OGP Action Plan, 2019–2021, Open Government Partnership, https://bit.ly/3bPiqwh.
[18] Richard Rose, Philip Garner & Brenda Joann Farrow, “Developing inclusive education policy in Sierra Leone: A research-informed approach”, January 2019, https://www.researchgate.net/publication/331474682. A 2004 Population Census revealed that in 2003 some 31 percent of 6- to 11-year-olds, 45 percent of 12- to 14-year-olds, and 76 percent of 15- to 17-year olds were out of or had never attended school. See Education in Sierra Leone: Present Challenges, Future Opportunities, World Bank, p. 122, 2007.
[19] See the table of increased enrollments in Medium-Term National Development Plan, Sierra Leone, 2019–2023, p. 39, http://www.moped.gov.sl/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Medium-Term-National-Development-Plan-Volume-I.pdf.
[20] Mr. Amara Sowa, National Programme Coordinator: Free Quality School Education, interview with IRM researcher conducted on 12 June 2020.
[21] Mr. Alhaji Bakar Kamara, former educator at Milton Margai, College of Education and Technology, Freetown, interview with IRM researcher conducted on 9 June 2020.
[22] Mr. Amara Sowa, National Programme Coordinator: Free Quality School Education, interview with IRM researcher conducted on 12 June 2020.
[23] Mr. Alhaji Bakar Kamara, former educator at Milton Margai, College of Education and Technology, Freetown, interview with IRM researcher conducted on 9 June 2020.
[24] 2019 Annual Schools Census Report and Statistical Abstract, Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Sierra Leone, November 2019, p. 33, https://mbsse.gov.sl/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2019-Annual-School-Census-Report.pdf.
[25] Mr. Alhaji Bakar Kamara, former educator at Milton Margai, College of Education and Technology, Freetown, interview with IRM researcher conducted on 9 June 2020. Mr Kamara maintained that treating exit examinations as an “opportunity to do business” is an open secret and entrenched culture amongst teachers and students.
[26] 2019 Annual Schools Census Report and Statistical Abstract, Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Sierra Leone, November 2019, p. viii, https://mbsse.gov.sl/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2019-Annual-School-Census-Report.pdf.
[27] Sierra Leone’s OGP Action Plan, 2019–2021, Open Government Partnership, https://bit.ly/3bPiqwh.
[28] Medium-Term National Development Plan, Sierra Leone, 2019–2023, pp. 40, 42, http://www.moped.gov.sl/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Medium-Term-National-Development-Plan-Volume-I.pdf.
[29] See Medium-Term National Development Plan, Sierra Leone, 2019–2023, Cluster One: Human Capital Development, p. 36 ff, http://www.moped.gov.sl/wp-content/uploads/2019/03/Medium-Term-National-Development-Plan-Volume-I.pdf.
[30] 2019 Annual Schools Census Report and Statistical Abstract, Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Sierra Leone, November 2019, p. vii, https://mbsse.gov.sl/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2019-Annual-School-Census-Report.pdf.
[31] 2019 Annual Schools Census Report and Statistical Abstract, Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Sierra Leone, November 2019, p. 19, https://mbsse.gov.sl/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/2019-Annual-School-Census-Report.pdf.
[32] Mr. Amara Sowa, National Programme Coordinator: Free Quality School Education, interview with IRM researcher conducted on 12 June 2020; Ms Martine Coppens, founder of Education for All, Sierra Leone, interview with IRM researcher conducted on 10 June 2020.

Commitments

  1. Expanding Community-Based Justice Services

    SL0022, 2019, Access to Justice

  2. Improving Access to Secondary School

    SL0023, 2019, Education

  3. Tax System Transparency

    SL0024, 2019, Fiscal Openness

  4. Beneficial Ownership Registry

    SL0025, 2019, Anti-Corruption

  5. Improve Implementation of Right to Access to Information

    SL0026, 2019, Access to Information

  6. Advancing Gender Equality

    SL0027, 2019, Access to Justice

  7. Open Parliament

    SL0028, 2019, Capacity Building

  8. Records and Archives Management

    SL0029, 2019, Access to Information

  9. Gender

    SL0012, 2016, Capacity Building

  10. Foreign Aid Transparency

    SL0013, 2016, Access to Information

  11. Waste Management

    SL0014, 2016, Capacity Building

  12. Fiscal Transparency and Open Budget

    SL0015, 2016, Access to Information

  13. Audit Report

    SL0016, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  14. Climate Change

    SL0017, 2016, Access to Information

  15. Elections

    SL0018, 2016, Access to Information

  16. Record Archive Management

    SL0019, 2016, Access to Information

  17. Access to Justice

    SL0020, 2016, Access to Justice

  18. Open Public Procurement Contracting

    SL0021, 2016, Anti-Corruption

  19. Publish and Revise 70% of Mining and Agricultural Lease Agreements and Contracts

    SL0009, 2014, Access to Information

  20. Starred commitment Right to Access Information Law

    SL0010, 2014, Access to Information

  21. Open Data Portal for Transparency in Fiscal and Extractive Transactions

    SL0011, 2014, Access to Information

  22. Public Integrity Pact with 5 Ministries, Departments, and Agencies

    SL0001, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  23. Archives and Records Management Act

    SL0002, 2014, Access to Information

  24. Scale up Performance Management and Service Delivery Directorate

    SL0003, 2014, Public Participation

  25. Compliance with Audit Measures

    SL0004, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  26. Starred commitment Single Treasure Account

    SL0005, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  27. Extractive Industry Revenue Act

    SL0006, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  28. Scaling up Extractive Industry Transparency Initiatives

    SL0007, 2014, Anti-Corruption

  29. Local Content Policy (LCP) Linkages with MDAs

    SL0008, 2014, Capacity Building

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