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Sierra Leone Launches Digital Learning Hubs to boost skills Acquisition

5/11/21

The Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI), in partnership with UNICEF, launches and officially announces the opening of the first Digital Learning Hub at the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM).  

The establishment of the Hub aims to address the existing challenge of skills gaps for young people and within the workforce by providing more digital learning opportunities.

It also aims to boost the acquisition and retention of in-demand skills for young people intending to enter the job market and cultivate improved learning outcomes for the current workforce.

The Learning Hub will provide a conducive workspace with free access to 30 computers and reliable internet connection. The Hub’s registered users will also have access to a wide range of digital learning content via the Learning Passport platform to help learners fully capitalise on opportunities. 

The Hubs will function on a day-to-day management procedure, and operations will be facilitated by an organisation with experience establishing and operating digital learning centers.

The roll-out of these hubs is set to optimise and redefine existing notions about education meaningfully. The course content of this initiative is tailored to reflect a viable alternative to traditional learning methods and aligns with the broader objective of advancing the Human Capital Development Agenda. 

The hub at IPAM will initially have the eUPSHIFT program available, but will later feature Drones and UAV courses (theoretical and practical), Graphics Design, Multimedia and other courses.

Lead Project Coordinator at DSTI, Salima Bah, sees a great deal of promise in this initiative.

`We can only meet the demands of the 21st-century workforce if we acquire the capacity and skill sets required. With the establishment of the first DLH we are providing an opportunity for young people who are looking to enter the workforce as well as current members of the workforce to acquire the skills sets to make them competitive in the global economy. Tapping into the industry and ingenuity of the workforce through unconventional means is clearly the hallmark of this initiative.’ – Lead Project Coordinator, DSTI, Salima Bah.

UNICEF Sierra Leone’s Innovation Specialist, Shane O’Connor, highlighted the progress made on Digital Innovation.

With the launch of the 1st Digital Learning Hub, we are making progress to deliver on UNICEF’s Reimage Education agenda. Making digital platforms, like the Learning Passport, and digital content, like eUPSHIFT, available in Sierra Leone, we are taking a step towards making digital learning be part of a basic basket of essential services for every child and young person.”

UNICEF Sierra Leone’s Innovation Specialist, Shane O’Connor

Echoing on the promise of the hub in transforming skills acquisition and overall professional development of citizens is Deputy Vice-Chancellor of IPAM, Prof. Samuel Nonie

We salute the efforts of DSTI and Unicef for breathing life into the aspirations of increased workforce development designed to foster job market competitiveness and reduce skills deficit. We are thrilled to host the first digital learning hub in Sierra Leone and we are certain that its use will be maximized to its fullest potential” – Deputy Vice-Chancellor of IPAM, Prof. Samuel Nonie

Want to know more about the Learning Hub or how to be a member? Go to https://www.dsti.gov.sl/project/

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Redefining Engineering Entrepreneurship and Innovation Education At the University of Sierra Leone

15th May 2021- 

Mornings on the slopes of Mount Aureol are unlike any other; the chilled breeze and tranquil quietness are broken only by chirping birds, honking cars and the chatter of commuting students. These serene plains are home to the oldest western-style university in West Africa Africa. The Fourah Bay College (FBC), was founded in 1827 and for almost 200 years, it has been the epicentre of higher education and advanced learning in Sierra Leone.Despite its illustrious heritage   in the aftermath of an 11-year civil conflict which provoked a downward spiral in the type and quality of education, many efforts are being made to transform learning outcomes for students. .

In August 2018, H.E President Julius Maada Bio launched the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) Program and allocated 21% of the national budget to fulfil the government’s flagship commitment to boost educational standards nationwide. This undertaking promises to directly benefit 2.6 million school children , who make up approximately 37% of Sierra Leone’s population. These and other developments demonstrate that there is indeed the political will to effect inclusive and  radical reforms in education. Further engagements at the Technical and Higher Education level have seen the government increase the salary of university lecturers and student hostels and learning environments have been upgraded by the government. New departments of Mining Engineering and Architecture have been established at FBC as the government promotes human capital development relevant to the 21st Century. 

Much has changed at Mount Aureol since the gloomy days of the early post-conflict years; there is even an unfamiliar spectacle of DSTI’s CIO Dr David Moinina Sengeh, lecturing close to hundred students in a final year (honors). While Dr. Sengeh serves as the Minister of Basic Education, he is one of the young, dynamic and spirited academics rewriting the narrative in post-secondary education. The course he is currently lecturing is titled Engineering, Entrepreneurship and Innovation program (FENG 510).

Dr. Sengeh believes that FENG 510 has the potential to make meaningful contributions to Sierra Leone’s Human Capital Development Agenda through a robust course model designed to equip students to rethink business models that are more impactful, sustainable, and connected to other sectors of the economy such as Poverty Reduction, Education, Health and Agriculture.

FENG 510 can empower students with access to information, job opportunities, and services that invariably improve their living standard whilst enhancing opportunities for data gathering and analysis for more targeted and effective entrepreneurship strategies. However, the biggest value is that the course is hands-on. Students will develop and present prototypes accompanied by detailed business plans as part of the course – Dr David Sengeh.

Students currently enrolled in the course believe it raises crucial awareness, inspires and stimulates their interests as budding engineers to embark on careers focused on harnessing the culture of upscaling technologies to develop creative entrepreneurship schemes.

Mr Emmanuel Gaima, a mechanical engineering student, said; 

“The FENG 510 program presents a unique opportunity for Sierra Leone to leapfrog in its efforts to cultivate a sustainable nation-building drive. Dr. Sengeh is making great strides in this direction.  It is a surreal experience to be taught by Dr. Sengeh. He is cheerful, welcoming and above all highly intelligent. Bearing witness to what he has accomplished both academically and as a high-level government official  is a wake-up call to us as youths and future engineers, not merely to be spectators or observers in the struggle for national development but to be active participants and proponents of it.”

Miss Afanwi Dobgima, a student who hopes to specialise in electrical engineering, also expressed identical sentiments;

I think FENG 510 is an enlightening and mind-blowing class. Dr Sengeh has helped me to gain a better understanding of how we can co-opt technology and

entrepreneurship to improve Human Capital significantly. We have discussed at length the limitations of engaging technology here, two of which are inadequate electricity supply and data availability and affordability. As Engineering students, he challenges us to do more to tackle these issues. That being said, leveraging tech is a step-by-step process. With all hands on deck, we can help Sierra Leone achieve the best version of itself. These are some of the thoughts I always leave the classroom with. 

With such enthusiasm and appetite for success, Dr. Sengeh is convinced that students in the FENG 510 program are uniquely positioned to make cutting-edge interventions across multiple sectors in the coming years as they will possess the requisite toolkits to tackle existing drawbacks preventing the integration of emerging tech for national development. For Instance, in the Agricultural sector, farmers can leverage the Internet of Things to optimise productivity and reduce waste through data-driven “precision farming” techniques. Also, with numerous health challenges exacerbated by climate change, limited physical infrastructure, and a lack of qualified professionals, technology can help mitigate these threats and build sustainable health care systems.

Report

HCDI Education Innovation Challenge Reflection and Learning Summit Report

A comprehensive introduction to Sierra Leone’s Education Innovation Challenge (EIC) that captures in-depth analysis of the education data including nationwide primary school baseline assessment, interventions by education Service Providers, new education policy, and much more #transforming education in Sierra Leone.

Blog

Government Incubator Education Innovation Summit highlights lessons from national pilot program

Learning by experimentation was the theme at the Education Innovation Summit hosted by the Human Capital Development (HCD) Incubator in Freetown, Sierra Leone last week. President Julius Maada Bio launched the HCD in 2018 as an Innovation in Government Incubator to test, seed, and scale innovations related to health, agriculture, and education.

The Incubator hosted education partners, Save the Children-SL, Rising Academy Networks, EducAid, National Youth Awareness Forum Sierra Leone (NYAFSL), and World Vision SL to exchange ideas, best practices, and innovations in education service delivery. Their winning ideas are currently being implemented in 170 schools and communities in Phase One of the Education Innovation Challenge

The leaderships of the Directorate of Science, Technology, & Innovation, the Ministry of Basic Senior Secondary School Education (MBSSE), and the Teaching Service Commission jointly co-chaired the event.

The Minister of MBSSE, Dr. David Sengeh, said that access to quality education in Sierra Leone has always been unequal; rural communities have had less than the Western Areas, and girls and women less than their male counterparts. He said that making education inclusive was a guiding principle for the Free Quality School Education Program. He also announced that the Education Innovation Challenge was to receive additional donor funding that would extend the pilot phase. 

Dr. Staneala Beckley

The Chairperson of the Teaching Service Commission, Dr. Staneala Beckley, said that the Summit’s purpose was to assess the pilot’s impact on learning outcomes for children. She said that the challenges and lessons gleaned from this phase would inform the pilot. 

Two representatives from the HCD and DSTI; Benjamin Davies and Foday N. Kamara, presented the EIC baseline findings—data collected from a random sample of ~10,000 students whose literacy and numeracy levels were evaluated by researchers before the pilot.

Wilsona Jalloh of the HCD Incubator gave a summary of The Challenge so far and reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to data collection. She said that the findings drive decision-making—not just the pilot design but education policy. The pilot’s singular focus is to improve learning outcomes for all of the children in Sierra Leone. The HCD will conduct an end-line study and review the 2020 National Primary School Examination results to learn more about the interventions’ impact. 

There was a breakout session for the various EIC implementing organizations. They brainstormed in smaller groups with DSTI, HCD, and other education stakeholders to understand what worked, the challenges, and outstanding questions. 

The EIC Summit closed with a recommitment of Government to the partners who will continue these innovations in education service delivery.

Blog

50,000 citizens to gain industry-ready skills as Sierra Leone becomes the first African country to launch Coursera’s Workforce Recovery Initiative

With 60% of the world’s student population impacted by the temporary closing of schools and hundreds of millions of people left without employment due to the on-going socio-economic disruption of COVID-19, many industries including education are relying on digital technologies to curb transmission rates, mitigate the impact on student learning and enhance sectoral resilience. In Sierra Leone, for example, technology including, e-learning, radio, TV and SMS are being used to support remote learning in schools and universities.

There is a pressing need for students, at-risk or displaced industry professionals, and unemployed individuals to upskill, reskill and retool in order to gain a competitive edge or have the necessary skills required for roles in the workforce during and post-COVID. In recognition of this, DSTI in collaboration with the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education and Coursera has launched nationally, the first African Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative!

The Sierra Leone Coursera Workforce Recovery Initiative will offer learning and certification for Sierra Leoneans in over 3,800 courses and 400 specializations effectively supporting 50,000 Sierra Leoneans build on in-demand and industry-ready skills to accelerate workforce development over the next 6 months (July to December 2020).

Coursera is a leading online learning platform for higher education founded by Daphne Koller and Andrew Ng with a vision of providing life-transforming learning experiences to anyone, anywhere. It is now the world’s largest online learning platform with 65 million learners in nearly every county. In light of COVID-19, Coursera launched the Workforce Recovery Initiative to help governments worldwide provide their workforces with free access to 3,800 online courses. The initiative supports governments to help impacted workers and unemployed citizens to reskill and up-skill to regain employment. 

“The pandemic has affected hundreds of millions of jobs around the world, including the livelihoods of many youths in Sierra Leone, Coursera is honoured to partner with the Government of Sierra Leone and the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation to provide young workers in the country with job-relevant online learning to swiftly enter the workforce”. Jeff Maggioncalda, CEO of Coursera.

In the last 4 days since the initiative was launched nationally on Wednesday, July 1st, 2020,  over 2,000 Sierra Leoneans have registered and clocked in 1,664 learning hours to pursue professional certifications in Google IT Automation with Python, web development, data science cybersecurity, entrepreneurship, accounting, AI etc. 

During the High-level Panel on Digital Cooperation webinar convened by the UN Secretary-General in June 2020, the Government of Sierra Leone’s Chief Innovation Officer, David Moinina Sengeh, highlighted that there has been an increase in internet usage in Sierra Leone in the last one year. Increased internet penetration (8.1% to 25%) during this period demonstrates Sierra Leone’s willingness to adapt to new technologies, digitisation and innovation, and means many more Sierra Leoneans will benefit from this initiative.

While President Bio’s administration continues to support individuals and businesses across all industries during COVID, it is also working on incentivizing more people to apply and gain the necessary skill sets that will make them ready to work in an economy that is increasingly digitally dependent on 21st-century problem-solving skills. To join the programme register online here:  https://www.dsti.gov.sl/coursera/

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DSTI Sierra Leone’s Human Capital Development Incubator awarded 1,050,000 CHF grant to improve quality education

Geneva-based  UBS Optimus Foundation and the Peter Cundill Foundation have awarded a 1,050,000 swiss francs (10,5 billion leones) grant to the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) to support the Education Innovation Challenge (EIC) on its quest to improve learning outcomes at primary schools. The EIC is under the technical supervision of the Human Capital Development (HCD) Incubator at DSTI.  President Bio launched the HCD Incubator in December 2018. 

Human Capital Development Incubator Team at DSTI including (L-R) Wilsona Jalloh, Elizabeth Smith, Aissatou Bah at a community engagement meeting in Makeni, Northern Province at the launch of the Education Innovation Challenge – October 2019

The Peter Cundill Foundation was established in Bermuda in 2012, following the death of its founder, Peter Cundill. In low to middle-income countries like Sierra Leone, PC Foundation supports organizations that are increasing learning adjusted years of schooling (LAYS) through wider access to and/or quality of basic education.  

The UBS Optimus Foundation is a grant-making foundation working to break down barriers that prevent children from reaching their potential by funding leading organizations to improve the health, education, and protection of children. 

“UBS Optimus Foundation has previously supported education work in Sierra Leone through various partners. However, this direct investment in government through DSTI enables us to drive evidence-based policymaking and research in the educational sector,” said Dr. Moinina David Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer.

“The only way we can transform education- through data, innovation, and policymaking-is to focus on the learning outcomes for the children. This grant will support DSTI and partners to evaluate learners directly and also test new innovations and programs that will support the government’s flagship program in education.”

The government of Sierra Leone launched its Free Quality School Education Program in August 2018; the first year focused on access. Year two, which began in August 2019, is where the Education Innovation Challenge (EIC) comes in.

In October 2019, five organizations in the education sector were chosen through a competitive process to implement their innovative approaches to improve learning outcomes in Sierra Leone. 

Save the Children-Sierra Leone, Rising Academy Networks, EducAid, National Youth Awareness Forum Sierra Leone (NYAFSL), and World Vision International, are working in 170 schools randomly selected across all regions for the 2019-2020 school year. 

The Human Capacity Development Incubator is a hub for local start-ups, private, public, and academic organizations to collaborate on projects that will help citizens access government services and information more efficiently. At the HCD, partners share data, build models, develop hypotheses, and test pilot projects to inform government investments in human capital.

In July 2019,  the HCD Incubator received a $582,626 grant from the New Venture Fund for Global Policy and Advocacy.  In November, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation awarded the HCD Incubator a $773,476 grant for DSTI’s Integrated GIS Portal.

Blog

Sierra Leone at the 2020 Education World Forum

Dr. Moinina David Sengeh, Sierra Leone’s Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) and Chief Innovation Officer of the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation (DSTI) led Sierra Leone’s delegation to the Education World Forum held in London on 19-22 January. EWF is the largest annual gathering of education and skills ministers and policy analysts.

Also, in Sierra Leone’s delegation to the Education World Forum was Ms. Aissatou Bah, Head of Global Partnerships at DSTI and Ms. Grace Kargobai, Executive Assistant to the Minister and CIO. Supporting the delegation in the UK was Ms. Elizabeth Smith, embedded within DSTI from the Tony Blair Institute.

Dr. Sengeh and his team engaged with high-level leaders including the UK’s Department for International Development Chief Economist and the CEO of the Education Outcomes Fund.

The team focused on partnerships with the Education Workforce Initiative (on teacher training and assessments); Education Development Trust (on policy and research), expanding Education Outcomes Fund to Sierra Leone as well as education research with the Brookings Institute already in progress at DSTI.

Dr. Sengeh also participated in the UK-Africa Investment Summit 2020 as part of Sierra Leone’s delegation led by His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio.

(L-R) Elizabeth Smith, who is embedded within DSTI from the Tony Blair Institute, Grace Kargobai, Dr. Moinina David Sengeh, and Aissatou Bah of DSTI at the Education World Forum, in the UK.

Blog

Sierra Leone invests $1.5 million to bring education innovation to schools for better learning outcomes

A national education dashboard released last month by Sierra Leone’s agency for technology and innovation and the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) showed that schools and students across the country are failing in national exams. To roll back this trend, the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation with support from donor partners are investing $1.5 million into an Education Innovation Challenge (EIC) that will impact 170 schools in all but one district. 

The national exam pass rate for all students is 55%. Two-thirds of students pass at the primary level, but by the time they take the national school-leaving exam at the senior secondary level less than a third pass. More years in school does not result in more learning. 

The World Bank’s 2018-Learning to Realize Education’s Promise reports that “125 million children across the world are not acquiring functional literacy or numeracy, even after spending at least four years in school.” Sierra Leone’s children match this statistic. The latest early grade math and reading assessment results for students in primary class 2 and class 4 show that students are not learning. 

Precisely, it is estimated that 97% of students in class 2 in Sierra Leone, don’t know how to read according to the most current Early Grade Reading Assessment (EGRA) done in 2014. The EGRA is an individually administered oral assessment of the most basic foundation skills for literacy acquisition in early grades, while the Early Grade Mathematics Assessment (EGMA) measures numeracy. Sixty percent of students still score zero on the same EGRA reading comprehension test in class 4. Early math learning outcomes are just as poor. Only 10% of grade 2 students and 30% of grade 4 students can do basic subtraction.

The government of Sierra Leone launched its Free Quality School Education Program in August 2018; the first year focused on access. Year two, which began in August this year, is where the Education Innovation Challenge (EIC) comes in. The EIC is under the technical supervision of the Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation’s Human Capital Development Incubator. Its primary aim is to find new ways to improve learning outcomes at primary schools. 

Five organizations in the education sector were chosen through a competitive process out of 20 to implement their innovative approaches.

Save the Children-Sierra Leone, Rising Academy Networks, EducAid, National Youth Awareness Forum Sierra Leone (NYAFSL), and World Vision, will trial their interventions in 170 schools randomly selected across all regions for the 2019-2020 school year. The Education Innovation Challenge is being supported with over $1,5 million of external funding in the first year. The Government of Sierra Leone through MBSSE is providing critical support to the service providers.

“We put out a call for innovative ideas in education under the Education Innovation Challenge,” said Aissatou Bah, Head of Global Partnerships, DSTI. She explained the selection process to education stakeholders at the Northern Region Education Innovation Challenge workshop held in Makeni, Bombali District, in the Northern Province last Thursday. Similar engagements were held in the Eastern and Southern Provinces and the Western Area that brought together all Head Teachers, District Directors of Education, and other staff in one room.

“The five winners of the challenge will run concurrent nationwide experiments in every district except for Falaba due to logistic reasons. We believe that our partners selected through the EIC will help us find solutions to improve literacy and numeracy outcomes in the 170 selected schools.” 

The first phase of the EIC in this pilot edition is with 170 schools. These schools were chosen using the data from the Annual School Census of MBSSE. Data and policy experts at the HCD Incubator, MBSSE and DSTI will continue to provide technical leadership in support of the EIC. An external assessment will be done at the end of this academic year in addition to a baseline assessment to evaluate impact. The results will inform the design of Phase II, a broader 2-year pilot that will run nationwide from 2020 – 2022. The results of the pilot will be used to inform a national scale-up of successful approaches from the EIC. 

Human capital development is the cornerstone of President Bio’s New Direction for Sierra Leone. He promised that education must not only be free, but it must be of a high standard of quality. The Human Capital Development Incubator launched by President Bio in December 2018 at Global Citizen in South Africa promotes innovation in government.

“The incubator is a unique initiative that will bring together the private sector, academia, and government agencies. Partners will share data, build models, develop hypotheses, and test pilot projects to inform government investments in human capital,” said Dr. Moinina David Sengeh, Chief Innovation Officer.

“Sierra Leoneans will feel the increased benefits of innovation in their lives.” 

Blog

Sierra Leone turns to technology and analytics to put quality back into education

Today, an estimated 2 million students return to school for the second year of the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) Program. The Government of Sierra Leone commits 21% of the national annual budget to the education sector as part of this historic initiative.  Last year’s focus was on universal access – tuition subsidies and learning materials. This year, policymakers will use data science and analytics to focus on quality to improve learning outcomes.

Click to view this visualization in the education hub

The FQSE Program is part of Sierra Leone’s larger national development plan which focuses on human capital development. Sierra Leone currently ranks 151 out of 157 countries on the Human Capital Index (HCI), which measures the level of productivity a child born today can expect to attain by the age of 18. The primary indicators are health and education. Children are expected to complete 9 years of basic (primary and junior secondary) education in Sierra Leone. A child born today will produce at 35% of his or her potential at 18 years if he or she had quality education and good health. However, for half of that time, students are enrolled but are not learning. Sierra Leone has a learning gap of 4.4 years according to the most recent HCI

The Government of Sierra Leone wants to change this statistic.

A new national Education Data Hub (www.educationdatahub.dsti.gov.sl) developed by the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) in partnership with the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) shows that at least 80% of students across Sierra Leone failed the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Exam (WASSCE) between 2016-2018. 

Click to view this visualization in the Education Hub

Five districts: Bo, Bombali, Bonthe, Moyamba, and Pujehun have reported fail rates greater than 96%. While student performance drops slightly from the primary to junior secondary level, performance declines dramatically from junior to senior secondary school. The Education Data Hub includes data from the Annual School Census (Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, 2018) and the National Examination Results (West African Examination Council, 2016-2018) for all three national exams (NPSE, BECE and WASSCE). 

The Minister of Basic Senior and Secondary Education (MBSSE) says they can now make better decisions and inform education policy because of data analysis and visualization available via the education data hub.

“For the President’s vision of Human Capital development to materialize, agriculture is involved, health is involved, but the narrative starts with education,” said Mr. Alpha Osman Timbo, Minister, MBSSE at a recent Ministry leadership workshop.

The Minister said that the availability of data will allow decision-makers like him to change the way they plan, how they spend, and where they invest government resources. The data hub will ensure that beyond making education free and accessible for all children, quality takes focus. Citizens too can use the data to hold policymakers and educators accountable when students fail and to also directly support their schools thereby increasing accountability. 

The Chief Innovation Officer of DSTI, Dr. Moinina David Sengeh, says the data casts a dark shadow over the nation’s recent educational past and its current state. He recently did a demonstration of the education data hub showing never before seen linked data to all Deputy Directors of Education from all districts, Free Quality School Education (FQSE) program heads, leaders of the Teaching Service Commission, and the leadership of MBSSE at the regional consultative workshop for the FQSE Implementation Plan.

“While most people had an idea that our education system had challenges, they believed that their districts, schools, and children were doing well because they did not look at the entire data. But when you see the numbers, it becomes clear that something major is wrong and that education over the years has been a disaster in Sierra Leone,”  said Dr. Sengeh.

“For example, the WASSCE pass rate for Pujehun district – where my parents come from –  was 1% last year. We cannot have our children spending twelve years in school and have none of them pass to go to university. What is discouraging is that the fail rates happened repeatedly and yet no known changes of impact were made by parents, educators or the government at the time.”

A team of data and computer scientists at DSTI prepared the data and led the development of the hub and its dashboards with partners over eight months starting in January 2019. The hub data includes (10,747 schools) every school in Sierra Leone that responded to the Annual School Census in 2018. National Examination data records were also obtained from the West African Examination Council for the 2016-2018 period. Linking these records and validating population data from Statistics Sierra Leone allows for deeper research and analysis of a variety of indicators that may have an impact on student learning outcomes.

“For the first time in history, we can begin to understand the effect of having bathrooms in good condition on examination performance. Being able to visualize the distribution of schools that have computers or bank accounts, or need classrooms, allows decision-makers to now interact with data to inform policies,” said Kumba Musa, Data Scientist, DSTI.

“The combination of datasets also helps the Ministry understand the distribution of children that are out of school across the country, map the distances students have to commute to access school and visualize poorly performing schools against their approval statuses,” said Ms. Musa. 

To prepare, clean, and validate the data, scientists at DSTI worked in close collaboration with staff at the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, particularly the Policy Unit headed by Mrs Adama Momoh. Mrs Momoh heads a team of experts within the Ministry who lead the digital collection of the school census and have technical knowledge on the education sector. Missing data, invalid entries, misspellings, and several other structural challenges made it tedious to clean the datasets. However, through the power of data analytics algorithms and from the lessons learned, the team at DSTI have developed models to expedite the cleaning of the 2019 data.

The hub and dashboard show that Sierra Leone’s commitment to education goes beyond getting students into school buildings. Year one of the previously seemingly impossible Free Quality School Education Program launched by H.E President Bio focused on access. Now, the country can begin to explore quality education by using data to optimize the learning outcomes of Sierra Leonean children so that they can become productive adults engaged in national development.

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