Education in Sierra Leone

Joined Commonwealth: 1961

Population: 5,696,000 (2009)

GDP p.c. growth: 0.9% p.a. 1990-2009

UN HDI 2010: world ranking 158

Net secondary enrolment: 24.9% (2007)

Adult literacy: 40.9% (2009)

Public spending on education was 4.3% of GDP in 2009. There are seven years of primary education starting at age five and seven years of secondary. Net secondary enrolment was 24.9% in 2007 with a secondary female-male ratio of 0.66:1 and pupil-teacher ratio of 24:1. The school year starts in September.

The principal tertiary institutions are Fourah Bay College in Freetown and Njala University, with campuses in Bo and Njala. These universities, together with Milton Margai College of Education and Technology (Freetown), Eastern Polytechnic (main campus in Kenema) and other independent tertiary institutions, are all affiliated to the University of Sierra Leone. The country also has a number of teacher-training and technical/vocational institutions providing certificate and diploma courses. Illiteracy among people aged 15-24 is 58% (2009).

The government’s education plan for 2007-15 aims to complete rehabilitation of the country’s education system, after the years of civil war, in order to give all citizens access to quality education. The plan emphasises primary education, skills training and tertiary education to meet development needs.

Sierra Leone has qualified for the World Bank’s ‘Fast Track Initiative’, which aims at meeting the education Millenium Development Goals and the Education for All goal that all chidlren complete a full cycle of primary education by 2015. Under the initiative developing countries commit to design and implement sound education plans and development partners commit to align and harmonise additional support around these plans.