As all government schools are set to resume next Monday, the Minister of Education Science and Technology (MEST), Dr. Minkailu Bah has announced that the government of Sierra Leone will pay no subsidy for pupils of both junior and senior secondary school (JSS&SSS) levels.
He made this announcement while he was presenting the school calendar for the 2016/2017 academic year, to members of the press at his New England Ville office, recently.
“For the past two years, we were doing a catch up. So this year, we are going to start our normal schooling system,” he announced. According to the minister, “the school calendar will run as follows: 1st term will run from the 12th of September to the 16th December, 2016; 2nd term will run from 9th January to 13th April, 2017; and 3rd term will run from 1st May 2017 to 14th July, 2017.”
The minister said the calendar took into consideration holidays such as Christmas and Easter adding that dates for other holidays other than these will be communicated to the public as they unfold.
He also stated that the dates for the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and that of the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) will be communicated to the public by the West African Examination Council (WAEC).
Dr. Bah also speaking on the issue of the payment of subsidy for primary and secondary schools said that the president made the commitment to pay for two years adding that the two years have expired.
He went on to say that those in JSS and those in SSS will not get subsidy this year and therefore parents should endeavour to pay for their children.
He noted however that the government will continue to pay for girls at the JSS level while primary education will continue to be free.
Giving a breakdown of the manner in which fees will be paid for the girls, the minister said “in the first year, payment will be made for three terms; in the second year, payment will be made for two terms; and in the third year, payment will be made for only one term.”
He further noted that though some schools are claiming that the government have not paid subsidies to them, the government has paid those who submitted their documents to the ministry; those whose documents were verified and are valid.
In addition those who have submitted their returns about what they pay them for the last academic year. “If a school submits a wrong account number and if a school submits a personal account number, government will not pay them,” he maintained.