By: Juliana Vandy
Strategic Communications Unit – MIC
Freetown- January 27, 2023- The Vice President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh on Friday 27th January, 2023 officially launched the University of Sierra Leone Endowment Fund at Fourah Bay College’s new multi- purpose hall.
The Endowment Fund is a charitable purpose fund to be held in trust for the benefit of the University of Sierra Leone with the intention to consistently raise revenue to support its core mission.
Speaking at the landmark event, the Honourable Vice President said there was no suitable time for such an intervention than now when Sierra Leone is ranking very high in transforming education in the world especially when President Julius Maada Bio is the Chairman of the Transforming Education Summit, Co-Chair to the United Nations Secretary General, as well as Sierra Leone being among the five nations named as global champions in education transformation.
He stated that the country is in the era of free quality education which “speaks volumes about our determination and conviction as a people in transforming the educational sector”.
According to him, the educational landscape in Sierra Leone can never be the same again due to the unstoppable transformation taking place under the leadership of President Julius Maada Bio, essentially the vision and deep seated commitment of a President that believes in investing in his citizens.
The Vice President disclosed that government is spending 22% of the country’s national budget on education which has led to tremendous increase in enrolment into tertiary institutions around the country.
He furthered that today there are tertiary and vocational institutions with very close to three hundred thousand students and universities about a hundred thousand students, adding that several reforms have taken place in the basic education area with enrolment today in basic and senior education, tertiary and universities increasing at a very alarming speed. “We are seeing more girls going to school, retained in schools, and more girls applying for sciences even in the University of Sierra Leone.”
VP Juldeh Jalloh said government was satisfied with the progress made so far “because when you invest resources and the result you get is encouraging you will be happy to do more.”
He applauded all stakeholders that continue to contribute to these successes, noting that there is huge show of success in teaching outcomes as there are now increased number of passes in public exams with more girls topping the list in public exams in the country.
Highlighting other government contributions since 2018, he disclosed that government’s investment in tertiary education alone has doubled, if not quadrupled. In 2018 alone, he went on, subvention to universities amounted to two hundred and seven billion Leones (207,000,000) while between 2018 and 2022, it was five hundred and eighty billion five hundred and seventy three million Leones (580,573, 000,000).
Government, VP Juldeh Jalloh informed, decided to take over salaries of lecturers in order to minimize, if not eradicate, the backlog syndrome that was inherited by the Bio administration.
He revealed that in 2019 alone lecturers salaries amounted to sixty five billion Leones and in 2022 three hundred and seventy billion, a massive increase he said that was done in very difficult times in sub-Saharan Africa when no government dared increase budgetary allocation in any other sector other than the health sector.
He explained that during the same period similar investments were made in the basic education sector which has today resulted in the retention of over 2.6 million kids in school.
He pointed out that though these investments were done in very difficult times, it is because as a government they believe it is worthwhile.
He highlighted the challenges of the university including finance, material resource and human resources which he described as the echo system. “For you to transform this echo system depends on how you govern it.”
He explained that what the Bio led government conceived as a modern university is to progressively reduce the overdependence of universities on national budget by depoliticizing the universities and bringing in modern administration and chancellors with new initiatives to improve the governance system in the universities like setting up of the University of Sierra Leone Endowment Fund.
He emphasised that the relevance of the Fund is to look for new sources for financing, “because when you look at the universities today the USL has over twenty seven thousand students which, in the next five years will be doubled”.
Dr. Jalloh said he believed the Endowment Fund would help address issues of infrastructure and staff capacity. “The University of Sierra Leone Endowment Fund is relevant today to meet these transitions more than ever. Government sees the Fund as a unique opportunity to support the transformation and expansion of the university. The Endowment Fund will send a strong message not only to the public, but to government as well, that the people that have been entrusted with administration of the university now realise the importance of governance and how to improve the financial fortune of the university.”
VP Juldeh Jalloh concluded his statement by describing the Endowment Fund as a laudable feat