MBSSE, Partners Convene for Inception Retreat to Launch $40 Million GPE Grant

The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), along with its esteemed partners, has commenced a three-day inception retreat to lay the groundwork for the implementation of a substantial $40 million grant from the Global Partnership for Education (GPE). This initiative, named the “Foundational Learning for All” project, is slated to run from 2023 to 2027.

Taking place from the 10th to the 12th of October at The Place Resort Tokeh, the theme of the retreat revolves around, “Accelerating Government’s Commitment to Education with a Focus on Delivering Foundational Learning for all Children.”

In a pivotal decision made during the board meeting in July, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE) sanctioned $40 million in grants for Sierra Leone. These grants comprise the US$ 22.5 million System Transformation Grant, the US$ 15 million Multiplier Grant, and the US$ 2.5 million System Capacity Grant.

The allocation of these grants followed an extensive application process, stemming from Sierra Leone’s partnership Compact, known as “Foundations of Learning for All.” The overarching objective of this initiative is to ensure that all students acquire foundational skills, with particular attention to closing learning gaps for girls and other marginalized groups. This mission is in complete alignment with Sierra Leone’s Education Sector Plan (ESP) titled “Transforming Learning for All,” as well as the nation’s Zero-Learning Poverty Plan. Furthermore, it reflects Sierra Leone’s international commitments to halve learning poverty by 2030.

Emmanuel Allie, the National GPE Coordinator and Director for International Partnerships and Financing in the MBSSE, emphasized that the Project Implementation Roll-Out Workshop is a dynamic event spanning three days. Its purpose is to empower participants in effectively steering complex projects towards successful outcomes.

“The primary goal is to ensure that all stakeholders gain a clear understanding of their roles and responsibilities in contributing to the success of this critical initiative. By doing so, the workshop serves as the initial step toward advancing foundational learning outcomes in Sierra Leone, aligning collaborative efforts, and fostering a collective commitment to achieving the objectives outlined in the GPE Partnership Compact and the Education Sector Plan 2022-2026,” he stated.

The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) will serve as the Grant Agent for the program, receiving and administering the funds on the government’s behalf.

Madam Liv Elin Indreiten – Deputy Representative Programme highlighted the significance of this workshop, underlining the dedication and commitment of Sierra Leone’s Government in partnership with UNICEF, the Global Partnership for Education (GPE), Irish Aid, the World Bank, and other development partners to address the crucial issue of expanding access and improving the quality of foundational learning outcomes for all children in Sierra Leone.

During the opening session of the retreat, Conrad Sackey, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, provided insights into President Bio’s government’s efforts in addressing learning poverty, particularly in the realm of foundational learning.

“I am pleading to all of you, this funding that we have attracted, it is not business as usual. Let us not think as we thought yesterday. In order to make the tomorrows of our young people better than today, we have to think outside the box,” the Minister urged.

The workshop, spanning three days, delves into critical aspects of project implementation, management, and coordination, with each day dedicated to specific themes, enabling participants to progressively build their expertise.

Foundational learning encompasses core skills such as basic literacy, numeracy, civic education, digital awareness, and socio-emotional skills, which serve as the bedrock for further learning and higher-order abilities. The transformation efforts will center on innovative pedagogical solutions and improvements in pre-primary and the initial four years of primary education, supported by robust data analysis and governance reforms.


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