Sierra Leone new president announces free education for kids

President Julius Maada Bio

Sierra Leone’s new President Julius Maada Bio on Thursday announced the introduction of free education for both primary and secondary school age children, in line with a major campaign pledge.

“Free education will be introduced effective September 2018 for all primary and secondary schools to improve access to quality education,” President Bio told the state opening of parliament, to thunderous applause.

Bio took office in early April after a tumultuous election campaign, ending a decade-long rule by the All People’s Congress (APC).

He also announced a near doubling — from 11 to 20 percent — of the education sector’s annual budgetary allocation.

“Free university education will be provided for three children of every school teacher with ten years’ experience,” he said, adding that a student loan scheme would be introduced as well as special incentives for science and rural based teachers.

Bio was flanked by two former vice presidents and former junta leader Valentine Strasser.

Strasser led the 1992-1996 junta before being overthrown by Bio who was then his deputy.

The President also announced cuts in Government expenditure to raise domestic revenue for the implementation of his development agenda.

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