Minister for Basic and Secondary Education, (MoBSE), Claudiana Cole

By: Kebba AF Touray

The Minister for Basic and Secondary Education, (MoBSE), Claudiana Cole, said her Ministry will abolish all forms of levies in public Lower Basic and Senior Secondary Schools. The Minister said this on Monday September 3, 2018, at the National Assembly, while responding to a question raised by the Member for SerreKunda, Halifa Sallah. Sallah asked Minister Cole to explain whether the free education policy still exists in Schools, and the items and cost comprising the free education package, as well as the number of pupils or students covered by the package.

In further responding to Halifa’s question, the Minister said Schools will be provided with grants by the end of the policy period; that the Ministry has introduced a free education policy through the School Improvement Grant Initiative, and the package eliminates School fees and other levies and includes the provision of textbooks which were barriers to access to education. The package she said covers everything except exercise books and lunch money.

In response to a supplementary question raised by the Member for Wuli West Sidia Jatta on the challenges faced by her Ministry in the implementation of the teaching of five national languages as a medium of instruction, Minister Cole responded that there exists some challenges in the project implementation in some Schools in Region 6.

“We do not have sufficient number of teachers who can speak Sarahulleh. Thus we have to rely on teachers who manage to speak the language even though, they are not native speakers of the language. We then trained them on the orthography and methodology of how to read, in Sarahulleh,” she said; that a similar situation prevailed in Foni regarding the teaching of the ‘Jola’ language, but that a lot of training and coaching was done to support the teachers.

Sidia Jatta further asked the Minister whether the experimental phase of the project is over and / or scaled up to cover all the Lower Basic Schools (LBS) in the country, and whether MoBSE will make the evaluation report available to Members of the National Assembly?

Minister Cole in response, said following the success of the pilot project, MoBSE has scaled up the program to cover all Public LBS in the country and that two additional languages, ‘Manjako’ and ‘Sereere’, are now added. “We are implementing the national languages to support the development of the reading skills of children in early grades from ECD to Grade 3. There was a study on the impact assessment of the national language pilot programme,” she said.

The Member for Wuli West Sidia Jatta, further asked the Minister the plans that are in the offing to relocate the country’s only library, to a site that is more environment friendly.

In response, the Minister Cole said the National Library was allocated land in 2004 on MDI Road, by the Ministry of Lands; but that there came a tussle on the ownership and were relocated another piece of land on Jimpex Road, which she said is currently being claimed by another organization.

“Notwithstanding, the Director General has sent a request to the Ministry of Lands for reallocation of another suitable land,” she concludes.

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