Education in Sierra Leone
The government of Sierra Leone envisions an educated, entrepreneurial and innovative citizenry, who are also tolerant, productive and internationally competitive. In this regard, it seeks to provide opportunities for children and adult to acquire the skills, values, and attitudes that help the nation grow and prosper.
In the aftermath of the Ebola epidemic, Sierra Leone suffered from severe economic, social and organizational breakdown, which have negatively impacted the education sector. To recover from that painful experience, the government redesigned the education sector plan, which is guided by the country’s willingness to transition from emergency situation to a period of accelerated development. This plan runs from 2018-2020 and covers all education subsectors including pre-primary, primary, secondary education as well as tertiary and non-formal education.
The new Education Sector Plan focuses on four areas:
- Improve access, equity and completion by:
- Increasing access to free Government-of-Sierra-Leone pre-primary education for children 3 to 5 years old,
- Increasing the entry and completion rates in primary school by reducing the cost of schooling to parents,
- Improving school feeding program for primary schools assisted by the Government of Sierra Leone,
- Increasing the transition rates from primary to junior secondary school by expanding tuition support for girls, formalizing re-entry of teenage mothers to school, and ensuring safety for girls by curbing sexual violence and exploitation in schools,
- Increasing equitable access to senior education by providing scholarships to the most vulnerable groups including girls, the poor, and children with disabilities,
- Improving school infrastructure in primary, junior secondary and senior secondary school levels,
- Increasing equitable access to technical and vocational education by implementing the existing policy, operationalizing NCTVE, reviewing the financing system, and by strengthening public/private partnerships,
- Increasing equitable access to higher education by developing a higher education strategy for addressing equitable growth, provisioning scholarships to the neediest students, and by continuing grant support for females in STEM,
- Improving literacy rates for youth adults by multiplying non-formal learning centers, providing accelerated primary education for older children and youth aged 10-15 years old, and by increasing funding for non-formal and adult education.
- Improve quality and relevance of the education system by:
- Improving the performance and assessment of students by ensuring that learning materials are available and science laboratories are equipped, implementing revised curriculum, and by conducting annual learning assessment,
- Ensuring all schools comply to the minimum quality standards set by the Ministry of Education Science and Technology,
- Ensuring that the education sector is safe and free of corruption,
- Improving the competency, work orientation and commitment of teachers and heads of schools to their jobs.
- Strengthen education systems by:
- Filling all key positions at the Ministry’s headquarters, in district education offices and teaching service commission,
- Developing and maintaining clean payroll records,
- Improving the Ministry’s service delivery through increased accountability and monitoring,
- Ensuring timely, reliable and accurate data and information on the sector performance,
- Conducting a comprehensive sector analysis.
- Increase emergency preparedness and response by:
- Developing an emergency preparedness and response plan, handbook and phone directory,
- Ensuring readiness to act according to the emergency preparedness and response plan.
Source: Education Sector Plan, 2018-2020
All amounts are in US dollars.
Source: World Bank - Education Data
Data on education are compiled by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) Institute for Statistics from official responses to surveys and from reports provided by education authorities in each country.
Primary completion rate (%)
Lower secondary completion rate
Out-of-school rate for children of primary school age
Out-of-school rate for adolescents of lower secondary school age
Pre-primary gross enrollment rate
Gender parity index for out-of-school rate – Primary and lower secondary
Public expenditure on education as share of GDP (%)
Public expenditure on education as a share of public expenditure (%)
Students/trained teacher ratio
Teachers trained (%)
GPE in Sierra Leone
The GPE grant of US$17.9 million was awarded in 2014 to support Sierra Leone in implementing its education sector plan. Additional financing from DFID (US$2.46 million) was integrated in the overall GPE-funded project as well as US$10 million of additional financing from the World Bank. The overall objective of the program is to improve the learning environment in targeted schools and to establish systems for monitoring overall education outcomes.
The four components of the grant are:
- Improve the learning environment and opportunities in targeted areas through performance-based school grants, piloting approaches to increase school readiness, and strengthening reading outcomes in the early grades and improvements in teacher management.
- Strengthen education service delivery through building a better system for measuring learning outcomes, supporting consistent school data collection and establishing a system for effective delivery on the Education Sector Strategy.
- Support project management and supervision.
- Support the implementation of the Ebola response Plan through emergency radio and television programs and establishing safe and secure learning environments.
The Ebola crisis has significantly impeded the progress of Sierra Leone’s education sector. An amount of US$1.45 million originally unallocated was used for Ebola-related activities.
Despite the delay, the GPE financing has contributed to the following results:
- 8,100 schools were reopened,
- 5,970 schools were disinfected and received hand-washing stations and supplies
- 36,000 handwashing stations were distributed to schools
- 600 hours of Ebola emergency radio programs were broadcasted
- 5,400 teachers received training
- 1,145 schools received grants, and their school management committees received training
- 50 preprimary classrooms have been built, including latrines, and and age-appropriate furniture
- The early childhood education policy, curriculum and minimum standards have been developed and validated,
- 117 preschools received monthly coaching and monitoring visits
- 14 districts benefitted from a social mobilization campaign
- 2.2 million supplementary readers and 56,000 teacher guides for grade 1-3 have been delivered to all primary schools in the country,
- 230,000 class 4 readers, 7,000 teacher guides and 30,000 classroom support kits were produced
- 1000 copies of textbooks and guides in Braille were developed and distributed
- A national learning assessment for grades 4 and 5 in English, Math and Science was carried out in 19 localities.