H. E president of Sierra Leone, Julius Maada Bio has said his government will introduce the students’ loan scheme that will provide loans facilities to deserving students to access higher education across the country.
He made this statement on Saturday while conferring certificates, diplomas and degrees to graduands of Njala University at the mini stadium in Bo.
He said the scheme is in line with his vision to increase access to education across the country as well as raise the level of competition among students from all levels of learning. He said that if the nation must develop, then there is every need to pay absolute attention not only to increased access to quality education but also to improve the standard of education at all levels.
“In addition to the Grants-In-Aid Scheme, my government will introduce a Students’ Loan Scheme which will provide loans to deserving students to access higher education. My government has therefore committed budgetary allocation to education to a minimum of 20% of the national budget. This is to demonstrate our commitment to education and to put education at the center of development in Sierra Leone today,” he said.
As a man of his words, President Bio also reiterated his manifesto commitment to depoliticize institutions of higher learning. He said that institutions of higher learning must be left to act independently devoid of political interference which will help to improve on performance and increase service delivery in educational institutions.
“I am here today as the Chancellor of the Universities because I want to live within the ambits of the law as prescribed by the Universities Act of 2005. However, effective 2019 as I said before, as President, I will cease to be the Chancellor of the Universities in order to depoliticize the Universities. In the coming months, the Universities Act of 2005 will be reviewed to reflect this change,” he confirmed.
The Chancellor of the Universities of Sierra Leone again noted that his New Direction policy recognises that human development is both a means and an end to development adding that human capital development covers improving education and developing skills, improving health care as well as protecting the poor and vulnerable population groups. In that vein, he said, one cannot afford to neglect the role that the University can play to quickly and positively move his agenda forward.
President Bio also said that the nation cannot achieve quality education if it is oversubscribed on admissions to different institutions of higher learning and therefore urged all institutions to admit only the number of students for which they are well resourced and capacitated to adequately support.
“It is unacceptable to have university students sit on the floor during lectures and during examinations. It is also a human rights violation,” President Bio said.