Sierra Leone Youth Awareness (SiLeYa) is calling on our newly elected President, Julius Maada Bio, along with the parliament of Sierra Leone, to commit to increasing overall education spending by 25% every fiscal year for the next five years, a total increase of 125% by the end of President Julius Maada Bio’s first term.
Given that in nearly every sector of education, spending has fallen by nearly half as a share of GDP, an ambitious program is necessary to build an educational ecosystem that meets the needs of all.
SiLeYa maintains the following principles and objectives that form the core of the “25 Up!” campaign:
- Education, from primary school to university, is a basic democratic right and should be completely free
- Education should teach literacy, numeracy, inclusion, democratic values, history, critical thinking, human rights and tolerance
- Every school should be equipped with quality textbooks, technologies and writing materials
- Children and young people cannot learn if they are ill or hungry; therefore, the 25% yearly increases in education spending are needed to pay for free school meals alongside onsite/visiting medical services at schools, and improved sanitation and clean drinking water at all schools
- Shifting schools towards becoming multi-dynamic community centers where medical checkups, food and community needs can be provided; making schools accessible, central nexuses of support, especially in rural areas; implementing a robust green energy policy for schools, partnering with private and public sector stakeholders to bring in solar energy to power computers, lights, and WiFi; teaching apprenticeships in solar and wind energy at secondary and high schools; connecting remote and underprivileged areas to the Internet, providing every school with high-speed Internet access and quality computers by 2025
- No student’s education should depend on their parent’s ability to bribe a teacher, therefore these practices must be rooted out by increasing teachers’ salaries to a living wage, and encouraging Peoples’ Assemblies in every region to discuss local issues, including education
- Setting up a Holistic Educational Council (HEC), composed of youth leaders, teachers, principles, community members, activists, members of government and civil society, with powers to enforce standards, independently audit schools and take surveys regarding needs in different regions of the nation
- Institute and enforce rigorous teacher qualifications
- Increase spending by 25% for each fiscal year for the next five years, making Sierra Leone’s education system a leader in holistic, multi-dynamic and inclusive democratic pedagogy
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Education Spending Facts
Education spending in Sierra Leone has dropped to an unacceptably low level. In one year alone, 2008, public expenditure on education, as a share of total government spending, fell by nearly 25%. This is why the “25 Up!” campaign is necessary to remedy the systemic under-spending, and to increase literacy, numeracy and higher education enrollment throughout our nation.
Furthermore, government disbursements for education have fallen to incredibly low levels as a share of gross domestic product (GDP, which is the sum of Sierra Leone’s entire national fiscal wealth). Yet more reason, as you can see from the graph below, for an ambitious spending project, a New Era for Sierra Leone!