Free Education is not a Novelty in Sierra Leone
Published On : 2018-08-25 09:50:59
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Tejan Kabbah, Ernest Koroma did the same but Ernest Koroma was able to provide Free Health Care for Pregnant Women, Lactating Mothers and Children under Five 
Public discussion into the recently launched ‘‘Free Education Programme’’ by President Julius Maada Bio keeps boiling to the length that it has become topical in every nook and cranny of the country.
Some are of the view that the Free Education Programme launched by President Bio on Monday will create some amount of morale boosting in the educational sector. Others also believe that what was promised to be part of the package of the Free Education Programme as stated in the SLPP New Direction ended up to be a sham far from what is contained in the SLPP’s New Direction Manifesto.
Finance Minister, Jacob Jusu Saffa while attending the World Bank Spring meeting in Washington this year said, ‘‘ our government has already secured 17 million dollars from donor partners for the Free Education Programme’’. This was widely published in some of the local tabloids which was a welcoming news only to later learnt that JJ Saffa’s statement was just one among those political statement usually made by politicians.
What became a surprising message during the launch of the Free Education Programme on Monday was when President Bio and his wife, Fatima Bio ,were deliberately calling on public officers including ministers, deputies and head of government department and agencies alongside parliamentarians to  pledge on their own behalf in support of the Free Education Programme. This was considered to be the highest and biggest embarrassment one could face in attending such program, said , a civil rights activist.

‘‘ How do go about asking people to make pledges just like that in support of something which the president should have ensure  to have at least makes some provision before coming up with an initiative ?
It is good and excellent to have Free Education but it has to be done systematically wherein people will see it as a reality other than just a political statement. What are the plans for the teachers? How do you expect this programme will become a reality without making or putting the necessary structures in place for the teachers? Is this package new to what use to obtain under the Free Education of President Kabbah and President Ernest Koroma? 
When President Koroma launched the Free Health Care Programme during his tenure, he was able to make provision for nurses, doctors and health workers. We saw salary increment as well as other benefits attached to the package of health workers. We also say a dramatic increase in the lives of health workers.
All this was done to motivate the health workers. Today, the Free Health Care, though faced with some challenges , is considered to be a big boost in the lives of poor parents. The Princess Christianity Maternity Hospital (PCMH) and other hospitals and clinics across the country have been doing extremely well in administering treatment to pregnant women, lactating mothers and children under five. 
Also, Free Education for Primary Schools started under the reign of President Kabbah. Kabbah made sure that idea gained momentum though it was faced with so many challenges. It was as a result of that that we saw the establishment of the Sabaju Education Project. The project was used to constructs schools so as to make adequate space for pupils in class. 
Ernest Koroma during his reign made similar strides and in trying to beef up the educational standards. The idea of chasing ghost teachers without providing adequate facilities for them ended up to have killed his ambition which contributed towards the downtrend of the educational sector. 
If President Bio want to make things happen for the better , he should ensure better facilities are put in place for the teachers as well as the pupils and must be seen to provide all the necessary educational materials.
By Sallieu Tejan Jalloh
Times SL Newspaper   


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