President Bio first 100 days promoting human development

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Sierra Leone Telegraph: 22 July 2018:

In his foreword to the Sierra Leone People’s Party Manifesto, 2018, as then Presidential Candidate,  President Julius Maada Bio writes that: “Our New Direction therefore offers the people of Sierra Leone a stark choice between the current ‘Business as Usual Status Quo’ of the APC that has converted Sierra Leone into a land of poverty, rampant corruption, gross indiscipline and underdevelopment and the SLPP’s New Direction’s promise of efficient and effective management of the state that will make Sierra Leone a significantly better country through inclusive politics, inclusive economic growth, inclusive development and inclusive governance.”

This stark choice has been made ever-glaring by the economic burden left by the All People’s Congress Government: external debt amounting to US$1.6 billion; domestic debt amounting to Le4.99 trillion; an exploded payroll of Le2 trillion; Government arrears to local contractors and vendors amounting to US$1.4 billion or Le10.7 trillion; the suspension of the Extended Credit Facility by the International Monetary Fund; and the suspension of the operations of Shandong Steel as the major exporter of iron ore.

With such inheritance, the priority for president Bio in his First 100 Days has been to pursue fiscal consolidation focusing mainly on enhancing domestic revenue mobilization and expenditure rationalization to restore macroeconomic stability.

Despite the Government’s impressive measures on economic recovery, the achievements within the First 100 Days in governance including the historic reading of the Supplementary Government Budget on 13th July, 2018, have shown a Government which is truly a New Direction.

The Bio led government achievements in its first 100 days, can be seen in four key policy areas: Transforming the Economy; Human Development; Improving Governance and Improving Infrastructure.

So, what has the government achieved in promoting human development?

President Bio has prioritized education as a conduit to transform Sierra Leone’s natural and mineral resources into sustainable development. This is primarily because he believes that education helps uplift people out of poverty and create vast new opportunities to reduce unfair income distribution and increase choices.

Within First 100 Days, the Government announced the implementation of the Free Education Programme that will commence in September 2018, targeting an estimated total enrolment of 2,141,356 pupils.

Government announced the provision of teaching and learning materials amounting to Le5.3 billion to all Government and Government-assisted schools.

Government announced school feeding programme for schools in remote communities. An amount of Le69.6 billion is provided in the revised budget for this activity.

Government announced that every child in Government and Government-assisted Schools would be entitled to 5 textbooks each for the five core subjects.

An amount of Le 19.9 billion is allocated as 10 percent advance payment to procure text books for the five core subjects to improve the text book to pupil ratio from 3:1 to 1:1.

Government announced that the outstanding Examination fees for NPSE, BECE and WASSCE for all recently concluded examinations estimated at Le 26.5 billion, would now be paid to the West African Examination Council (WAEC).

Government announced the elimination of SS4 with effect from the 2018/19 academic year as promised in the New Direction.

Government will pay an additional one-month salary in the month of August to all teachers teaching SS3 pupils to provide additional classes over the summer holidays to pupils promoting to SS3 to catch up with those already in SS3 that were to proceed to SS4.

Government announced grant dispensation for the payment of outstanding bills owed to suppliers providing diets to all Government Boarding schools to enable them provide regular diet supplies to pupils over the holidays up to the end of the first term. Institutional support for the free education programme is allocated Le6.0 billion.

Government announced the provision of School Buses for which an amount of Le12.0 billion has been provided as advance payment for the procurement of fifty (50) school buses to be managed by the City Councils on a cost recovery basis. The objective is to reduce the cost of transportation for school children while ensuring that they are regular and punctual in schools.

Government announced the introduction of a conditional cash transfer programme for the education sector to encourage very poor parents to allow their children to go to school, instead of sending them out to engage in street trading and hawking.

President Bio announced the elimination of the payment for Application Forms for Admission to the Universities; and an allocation of Le5.6 billion is provided in this budget to cover the cost of University Application Forms for the 2018/19 academic year.

Government announced the commencement of a National Student Loan Scheme in the second half of the 2018/2019 Academic Year, and has allocated the sum of Le2.0 billion to support start-up institutional arrangements and operations.

In line with the President’s statement on the official opening of Parliament to support adult literacy, Government has announced the provision of Le2.4 billion in the domestic capital budget to support adult functional education in all 14 provincial and the Western Area districts.

Government announced salary increase for Civil Servants in Grades 1- 6. Government is providing 10 percent of the basic salary of all civil servants, teachers, police, military, correctional services and National fire Authority in grades 1 to 6 as transport allowance. This will cost Government Le24.6 billion for the second half of the year and benefit 49,181 Government workers, which account for 71 percent of the public sector work force.

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Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has established committees to support the Free Education Programme: Inter-Ministerial & Partners Group (IMPG), Technical Committee and Ward Education Committee produced.

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has commenced the preparation for the establishment of a Multi Donor Trust Fund (MDTF) which will be basket fund to support free education.

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has also commenced national/internal resource mobilization activities with preparation of a proposal for the establishment of a GoSL Trust Fund containing funds for education from the mining sector and from mobile phone calls

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has commenced the removal of double shift schooling.

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has conducted a schools’ assessment survey.

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has commenced the 2017/18 annual school census and using tablet computers to collect data for the census.

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education is reprinting 11,000 lesson plans in English Language and Mathematics for the junior secondary level and associated training of teachers to use the plans.

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has completed the drafting of comprehensive lesson plans for English Language and Mathematics at the senior secondary level. Associated training of teachers to commence in August 2018.

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has completed the drafting of JSS and SSS Pupil Handbooks in English Language and Mathematics that are aligned to the lesson plans. All public Junior Secondary Schools and Senior Secondary Schools are targeted

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has completed the drafting of Teacher Guides in respect of English Language and Mathematics for the junior secondary level

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education successfully conducted the 2018 National Primary School Examination.

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has commenced the arrangements for expansion of the Accelerated Learning Program (ALP) to accommodate children over 10 years of age wanting to access primary education.

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has embarked on arrangements for the World Food Programme (WFP) to become a partner in the implementation of the school feeding programme.

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has re-commenced the inter-school and inter-college sporting activities.

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education provided urgent support to WAEC in addressing a variety of issues.

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has transferred teacher management functions to the Teaching Service Commission.

Teacher records repository has been established at Teaching Service Commission.

Teaching Service Commission (TSC) developed 4 policy guidelines. (Policies now being harmonised and made more coherent.)

Teaching Service Commission has conducted a baseline study on characteristics of teacher training providers.

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education has developed course for school leaders on performance management and standards.

Teaching Service Commission has developed and popularised the standards for teachers and school leaders in four districts.

As a newly established Ministry, the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education has set up a governance structure by establishing an organogram indicating various departments and units in line with the Presidential assignment; and identifying posts with corresponding Job descriptions to be presented to the Human Resource Management Office (HRMO) for recruitment.

The tenure of office of almost all heads in the Technical and Higher Education expired long ago and post holders were found to be above the stipulated age of retirement. Some have been in the posts above the age of retirement for over five years with little or no contribution to the development of the institutions.

The Ministry of Technical and Higher Education appointed new leadership for the Universities, Polytechnics and Teacher Training Colleges; and designed terms of reference for the appointed leaders in addition to that spelt out in the Universities Act of 2005.

Ministry of Technical and Higher Education has reconstituted University Courts and Councils for Teacher Training Colleges and Technical Institutes to ensure effective and efficient supervision of academic and training programmes.

Ministry of Higher and Technical Education has established Multi-sectorial Technical Working Groups (TWGs) to promote information sharing, joint planning, implementation and oversight.

The Ministry of Higher and Technical Education has held meetings with Njala University and other educational institutions to normalise the college calendar so that all higher education institutions reopen in October.

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation has been restructured into Clinical and Public Health and the various directorates and programmes would be supervised under these two. Of note is the creation of two new directorates: (i) The Directorate of Laboratory, Diagnostics and Blood Services, (ii) Directorate of Global Health and Emergencies – as a prelude to the National Public Health Agency.

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The Ministry of Health and Sanitation has been able to source $3m from the Centre for Disease Control and the World Bank to train laboratory personnel, equip 40 CHCs for diagnostics and Non-Communicable disease facilities, and provide wearing apparel and bed linings for about 3,000 personnel in these facilities.

Vaccine safety and efficacy is Prime to immunization and Child Health. To achieve this, 220 solar direct drive refrigerators have been procured to serve all CHCs. Furthermore, to ensure the corrective maintenance of the refrigerators, 28 personnel have been trained in cold chain technology.

Anti-Malaria drugs and health commodities have been distributed to 1,230 peripheral health Units and 37 hospitals (both public and Private) nationwide to support the treatment of malaria across the Country.

The quantification of the 2019 drugs for Free Health Care needs was undertaken and the ministry has completed the first batch of distribution of drugs to 14 district hospitals.

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation has received drugs from the United States Embassy through USAID which is valued over $200,000 – for all Government Hospitals.

Presently 5 hospitals (between 75-100 beds) have been built using Kuwaiti and DFID funds. Within the First 100 Days, the Ministry of Health and Sanitation has developed a concept note and blocked funds from the KUWAITI laboratory and hospital programme to fully equip one of these hospitals as a National Modern Diagnostics and Treatment Centre (NMDTC); and another for exclusive Accidents and Emergencies (A&E), while the other three (3) will continue to serve as community health facilities.

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation has received five (5) digital X-ray equipment that will make significant improvement in the diagnostics capability in the tertiary hospitals.

To attain a reasonable service delivery, the ratio of health personnel to population should approach the WHO recommended 23/10,000 people. Sierra Leone was far below the minimum requirement. In our First 100 Days, Government has therefore, given approval for all doctors to be employed immediately on graduation.

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation has started in July 2018 payment of incentives to Community Health Workers including immunization officers, traditional birth attendants and community health advocates.

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation agreed that experienced and over 60 years specialist doctors to be retained in service so they can provide outreach services to the districts one week every month. This will serve as additional in-house training for the young doctors in the districts and nurses.

To upgrade the skills set of Midwives, especially those trained from the State Enrolled Community Health Nurse (SECHN) background, a simulation laboratory with an ICAP Comprehensive Simulation program was established and opened in May, 2018. This would strengthen the resilience and the responsiveness of midwives in critical conditions that could arise in rural areas.

The Ministry of Health and Sanitation has deployed two (2) nutrition staff per district government hospital to improve the nutritional services especially in the treatment of non-Communicable disease patients

To promote optimal breast-feeding practices, 20 clinical hospital staff per regional hospital (Bo, Bombali and Kenema) have been exposed to maternity course module on all benefits of breast feeding indicators.

The Directorate of Health Security and Emergencies has been created as a prelude to the establishment of the National Public Health Agency. This entity responded to 2 potential emergencies; (i) a disease outbreak in Kamalo which was associated with polluted water (ii) Measles outbreak in Masadu in Falaba district. Contact tracing, treatment and immunization were attained within two weeks of detection. The advent of laboratories with the diagnostics capability for the detection of such diseases within 12 hours of sample collection is a major development in preparedness and disease response.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs has undertaken a comprehensive audit of projects inherited from the outgone Government. Several issues of misappropriation were discovered. For instance, in the Youth in Fisheries Project, it was discovered that funds amounting to Le15 billion Leones were misappropriated.

In the Youth in Drainage project, the audit also discovered that about Le29.6 billion was withdrawn by the accountant and the project manager. Similar findings of misappropriation were also discovered in projects like National Youth Village and the National Youth Farm.

The National Youth Scheme is at present recruiting the first set of Youth Corps. This project targets young graduates from tertiary institutions to participate in a year voluntary service to the state. The Ministry in order to achieve this has toured the entire country, holding meetings with stakeholders including paramount chiefs, students, Civil Society Organizations, among others.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs has launched a Car Wash Project. About 25 Car Wash centres will be used as pilot even though the Ministry intends to expand to 50 across the country. This Car Wash project is a laudable initiative that will help young people, who are into car and motorcycle washing, have better and modern car washing skills and a well-structured working environment to carry out their trade.

The Ministry of Youth Affairs has sent five (5) young Sierra Leoneans to study in the People’s Republic of China to learn skills in Agriculture and another five (5) in Bridge Engineering.

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The Ministry of Youth Affairs has constituted a project steering committee on Youth Entrepreneurship and Empowerment. The process to recruit the consulting firm for the skills project is in progress as the National Youth Commission awaits response from AfDB for the ‘no objection’.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs has established the Religious Affairs Secretariat which was officially opened by the Vice President and the First Lady. The 2018 National Hajj committee established together with the welfare committee.

Pre-Hajj visit to Saudi Arabia has been completed with concrete arrangement for accommodation and other logistical support.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs launched Child Welfare and Alternative Care Policies by the Vice President. A roll-out plan has been developed and implemented.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs has commissioned Ramp facilities in the Ministry to facilitate access for wheel chair users visiting or working with the Ministry. Ministry has also embarked on public awareness on provisions in the 2011 Persons with Disability Act regarding making public facilities disability friendly.

The Minister and Staff of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs visited Mile 6 to acquaint themselves with challenges. Ministry provided non-food items to affected persons and have sprayed diesel to drive snakes away from the environment in a bid to keep residents safe.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs has established a Compliance and Programme Coordinating unit to ensure that projects and programmes executed by the Ministry and its partners are fully compliant with the new direction, as well as ensuring parity in resource distribution and the avoidance of duplication. Concept note and budget developed, consultation with partners have been carried out which clearly highlighted the need for this unit.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs has produced a zero draft of the 7th Periodic CEDAW Report awaiting technical peer review and validation.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs Provided psychosocial support to 250 Returning Migrants for their social reintegration in society.

The Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs in collaboration with DCI have made a symbolic signing of bilateral SOP with the Guinean counterpart on measures to address cross border child trafficking.

The Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs conducted tour to regional and district offices and care-given institutions by the Minister to familiarize with issues and foster stronger partnership and collaboration.

The Athletics Association recently participated in the U20 ECOWAS Championships in Cape Coast, Ghana from the 22nd – 24th June, 2018 and won seven medals – two silver, 1 individual bronze and four bronze (3rd place in the men’s 4×400 meters relay). This has qualified Sierra Leone for the IAAF U20 Championships scheduled for 10th – 18th July in Finland.

Sierra Leone participated in the just concluded university games in Makelle, Ethiopia (1st – 8th July, 2018) and won a bronze medal.

Government has approved the hosting of the WAFU Female football tournament in Freetown.

Sierra Leone, through the Sierra Leone Karate Federation, for the first time hosted the 4th UFAK Zone 2 Karate Championship Cadet, Junior and the Under 21 Championship on 5th – 8th July 2018, in Freetown.

For the first time in the nation’s sporting history, the National Amputee football Team, travelled to Russia on a friendly invitation to attend the ongoing World Cup Tournament.

Cabinet has approved project proposal for the comprehensive rehabilitation of the Siaka Stevens Stadium. The Rehabilitation work is expected to commence in September 2018 and will include facilities such as car park, swimming pool, the stadium main pitch and its facilities, basket and volley ball courts, hostels and the practicing field.

The Ministry of Sports organized a collaborative meeting with the Ministries of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and the Technical and Higher Education and agreed that the Ban on Schools and University Sports be lifted.

The Ministry of Sports intends to waive the hiring fees for the use of the stadium in the next academic year for all Government Schools. This will complement the free education agenda in the new direction.

Commencement of the traditional inter-schools’ sports competitions will kick start in the new academic year with the inclusion of Mind Game Sports such as Scrabble, Chess and Draught, etc.

The Sierra Leone National University Sports Federation has been established, comprising the Ministry of Sports, the two Education Ministries and the University of Sierra Leone. The Country participated in the 9th Africa University Games in Makelle, Ethiopia from 2nd – 6th July 2018.

The Ministry of Sport has facilitated the emergence of grassroots sporting activities organized by community-based organisations (CBOs) ensuring the use of sport as a vehicle for social development.

The impasse in the Football Association is almost resolved and the national league is expected to commence soon.

The impasse in the Athletics Association has been resolved and they now operate as one National Executive.

Source: Office of the press secretary Report on President Bio’s first 100 days in office

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