Budgetary Allocation to Education Sector
85. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, reflecting Government's commitment to improving access to free and high quality education at all levels under the New Direction, a total of Le 1.04 trillion is allocated to the education sector.
86. The allocation to the education sector,which includes salaries of teachers,free basic and secondary education, support to tertiary education institutions, the teaching service commission and tertiary education commission accounts for 21 percent of primary expenditures consistent with the commitment made under the People's Manifesto by His Excellency, Dr. Julius Maada Bio. Allocating this level of expenditures to the education sector further demonstrates the seriousness of the SLPP led Government in improving access to quality education for all. The increased allocation will fund the free education programme for basic and secondary education, which include free tuition, provision of teaching, learning materials and text books; school feeding for primary schools, and examination fees for NPSE, BECE and WASSCE. In this respect, Government will utilize 5 percent of Goods and Service Tax and Mining revenues to finance part of the increase in education spending in this Supplementary Budget.
Free Education for Basic and Secondary Schools
87. The Government's flagship Free Education Programme will become effective in September 2018. The scope of this programme will cover pre-primary, primary, junior secondary and senior secondary education with an estimated total enrolment of 2,141,356 pupils. The total budgetary allocation to free education programme for the first term of the 2018/19 Academic Year is Le190.9 billion, of which, Le119.7 is for Pre-primary and Junior Secondary Shool and Le71.2 million for Senior Secondary School. This will cover several key programmes under the first phase of implementation as follows:
(i) Payment of Tuition Fees: Following consultative meetings between the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and the Associations of Head Teachers and Principals of Schools nationwide, the following are the approved revised school fees per term in all Government and Government Assisted Schools payable under the Free education programme:
Pre-primary and Primary - Le10, 000 per term each Junior Secondary - Le50, 000 per term and
Senior Secondary - Le60, 000 per term
88. To meet the full payment of school fees for the estimated total enrollment, the total sum of Le43.1 billion is provided under the Goods and Services budget. This amount will be processed and released into the approved designated bank accounts of all schools days before the opening of schools. Therefore, no school should levy admission fees in all Government and Government Assisted Schools.
ii. Provision of teaching and learning materials: An amount of Le5.3 billion is provided for the procurement and distribution of teaching and learning materials to all Government and Government-assisted schools.
ii. School Feeding: Government will also support school feeding for schools in remote communities. An amount of Le69.6 billion is provided in the revised budget for this activity
iv. Provision of Text Books: 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 of 1:1.
v. The oustanding Examination fees for NPSE, BECE and WASSCE for all the just concluded examinations estimated at Le26.5 billion, would now be paid to the West African Examination Council (WAEC).
vi Transitioning to 6-3-3-4
In addition to the above, to facilitate 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. Also, Government will 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.
89. Mr. Speaker, Honourable Members, the components of the free education programme described above also serve as measures to mitigate the impact of the fuel price liberalization on our people. Mindful of the social impact of this policy on the poor and vulnerable in our society, Government is proposing additional mitigating measures. These include provision of school buses, conditional cash transfers for education, tuition fee subsidy for university students, payment for university application forms, introduction of a student loan scheme and an Adult Literacy Programme.
(i) Provision of School Buses: 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.
(ii) Conditional Cash Transfers for education: Government is also introducing 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. An amount of Le5.0 billion has been allocated to this programme.
(iii) Tuition Fee Subsidy for University Students: with regards to tertiary education, Government will continue to subsidize University tuition fees.
Additionally, Government is also eliminating the payment for Application Forms for Admission to the Universities. The cost of University Application Forms will no longer be borne by applicants. 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. All potential students who have paid for application forms for admission to the University of Sierra Leone, Njala University, MMCET, EBK University Makeni and Port Loko Campuses, Bonthe Technical College, Eastern Polytechnic and others would be reimbursed by their respective institutions after payment is made by Government.
Student Loan Scheme: The continuing payment of subventions as well as College and university fee subsidies by Government has serious negative implications on public finances. The estimated payment to these institutions for 2017 financial year was Le193.4 billion. In most part of the world today, including sub-Saharan Africa, Students Loan Scheme has become the norm for providing sustainable means of financing tertiary education.
As declared by His Excellency, Government will commence a National Student Loan Scheme in the second half of the 2018/2019 Academic Year. An Inter Ministerial Committee comprising Ministries of Higher and Technical Education and Finance, University of Sierra Leone and NASSIT has been established to formulate policies and implement the scheme within a transparent legislative framework. While the current grant-in-aid has inherent governance challenges, the proposed Student Loan Scheme will provide access to higher education for all students, irrespective of income level. An effective Student Loan scheme will also ensure mutual accountability between the students and college authorities. To this end, Government has allocated the sum of Le2.0 billion to support start-up institutional arrangements and operations.
Adult Literacy Scheme: In line with H.E, the President's statement on the official opening of Parliament to support adult literacy, the sum of Le2.4 billion is provided in the domestic capital budget to support adult functional education in all 14 provincial and the Western Area districts.
Salary Increase for Civil Servants in Grades 1- 6
As part of the mitigating measures, 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.