By A Special Correspondent…..
The Ministry of Finance has on Wednesday 28th July 2021 hosted the signing of a sixty-eight (68) Million Dollars project which the Government of Sierra Leone has secured to finance the Sierra Leone Education Sector Support Project (SLESSP) for both the Ministry of Basic & Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) and the Ministry of Technical & Higher Education (THE) at the Ministry’s conference hall, George Street, Freetown.
The project is funded by: Saudi Development Fund (SDF) – $25M, Opec Fund for International Development (OFID) – $20M, African Bank for Economic Development in Africa (BADEA) – $20M) and $3m from the Government of Sierra Leone GoSL respectively.
The SLESSP which was approved in 2019 to provide support to the Education sector in tandem with the government’s agenda to improve the quality and accessibility to education in hard-to-reach areas across the country commenced on 8th February 2021 and is expected to close on 31st December 2024.
In his speaking note, the Minister of Finance, Denise K. Vandi, explained that 75% of the project funds had been committed to civil works infrastructure and the project would focus on the construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, and furnished of six educational institutions which include: two technical and higher education institutions and four secondary schools (one in each region) as well as a new seven-story administrative building at New England Ville.
He furthered that the project will support government effort towards the flagship free quality education program across the four regions – East, West, North, South.
He disclosed that the design stage is expected to last for a maximum of 90 days after which complete design drawings and specifications together with tender documents will be submitted for the commencement of the tender stage in November.
He urged the consultant (IDEAS Ltd. and ECG Engineering) to demonstrate their true expertise as stated in their company’s profile which earned them the contract by providing design drawings and technical specifications that will give value for money and timely execution.
On behalf of His Excellency the President, he pledged his support and commitment to ensure that funds are provided to execute the project.
The Project Coordinator, Education Support Project – Ing. Neilford E. W. Rose, in his overview of the project’s components, highlighted the beneficiaries which include the three campuses of the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology (Goderich, Congo Cross and Brookfields), with new construction of areas of 27,000 square meters and reconstruction of 21,400 square meters, the Bo Government Secondary School, Kenema Government Secondary School, Magburaka Boy Secondary School and the Prince of Wales Secondary School (with new construction areas of 31,250 square meters and reconstruction of 74,700 square meters, and seven-floor administrative building for the Ministry of Education in Freetown, covering of 3,136 square meters.
He revealed that the project steering committee comprised nine core members of all stakeholder institutions.
Speaking on behalf of their Ministries, the Deputy Minister of Technical and Higher Education (Sarjoh Aziz-Kamara) and the Deputy Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (Emily Kadiatu Gogra) noted that the project is timely and that they hoped it would be implemented in time.
They appreciated the donors and assured them of their support throughout the implementation process. They appealed for a long-lasting modernized infrastructure and pledged their commitment to support and sustain the project.