Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Global Partnership for Education and UNICEF begin construction of 60 ECD classroom blocks

31 October 2020
Turning of the sod for construction of Early Childhood Development Centre
UNICEF Sierra Leone/2020/Mutseyekwa
Turning of the sod for construction of Early Childhood Development Centre

Pujehun, 31st October 2020 - A groundbreaking ceremony to launch the construction of 60 Early Childhood Development (ECD) classroom blocks across three targeted districts, was held at Sahn community in Malen chiefdom of Pujehun on Saturday 31 October 2020. The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education,(MBSSE) with support from the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), is rolling out this construction work as part of the GPE-funded “Getting it right, building strong foundations for learning” programme. The programme, will over the course of the four years, benefit 6,000 children in Bombali, Pujehun, Kambia, Kenema, Karene and Moyamba.

The construction of the ECD blocks, is expected to increase access to ECD programming in Sierra Leone and to improve learning outcomes, and promote children’s  good health and social development. At each centre, two spacious and furnished classrooms will be constructed with accompanying disaggregated toilets and boreholes promote good sanitation and hygiene practices such as handwashing, which is very important especially as the COVID pandemic continues to affect many communities in the country. To stimulate children’s social and emotional development, MBSSE and UNICEF will provide teaching and learning materials including Picture books to each centre and an outdoor playground will be constructed to further enhance the learning environment.

The construction of ECD centres is in line with the National Education Sector Plan 2018–2020 and the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) programme, wherein early childhood development is recognised as important in improving learning outcomes, laying the foundation for lifelong learning and ultimately address issues of poverty, inequality, and low economic output at household and national level.

“Prior to 2018 when H.E President Julius Maada Bio made pre-schools and early childhood development centres beneficiaries of the Free Quality School Education Policy, ECD was not a supported part of the formal public education program. Human Capital Development starts from the basic foundation and every child requires quality learning and wellbeing,” said Hon. Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education. “I’m glad our government and our partners continue to prioritize learning by creating the enabling environments for quality education for every child."

Across Sierra Leone, anecdotal and statistical evidence shows that many children aged 0 – 5 years in Sierra Leone do not fully access early childhood development classes – unaffordable, poor-quality or inaccessible childcare and early childhood development facilities force many parents to leave young children at home, often in unsafe and unstimulating environments.

According the Multiple Indicator Cluster Survey (MISC 2017), only 12 per cent of children 3-5 years are attending an organised early childhood education programme and just 2 per cent of children under five years of age have access to three or more reading books. Where ECD centres are in place, these remain severely underfunded with lackluster facilities and execution.

Research also shows that many children who do not attend pre-primary ECD learning, are likely to be off track in early literacy and numeracy skills than children who have attended ECD learning.  

“The Construction of these ECD centres shows that Sierra Leone is moving in the right direction with increasing the provision of quality Early Childhood Development programming and also quality learning for children in the country,” said UNICEF Representative, Dr. Suleiman Braimoh.  “By providing children with a stimulating learning and nurturing foundation, we will be giving them the best chance in life as they will be prepared to succeed in a competitive world when they reach adulthood.”

Apart from the construction of ECD classroom blocks, the GPE-funded programme “Getting it right, building strong foundations for learning” led by the MBSSE with support from UNICEF also aims improve learning outcomes for children in primary 1 to 3 and strengthen systems for decentralized school monitoring, data collection and management.

Media contacts

Tapuwa Loreen Mutseyekwa
Communication Specialist
UNICEF Sierra Leone
Tel: +232 76 100 532
Tel: +232 76 601 310

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