In June 2021, the government of Sierra Leone, through the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), released its new School Infrastructure and Catchment Area Planning policy. Laying the foundation for increased access to safe, quality education, the document draws extensively upon insights from the GRID3 Education Coverage in Sierra Leone report published in December 2020. The policy was also informed by additional school catchment mapping conducted by GRID3 in collaboration with Fab Inc.
“The school catchment policy will bolster planning and coordination around improvements to school infrastructure,”
says David Sengeh, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and Chief Innovation Officer.
“Our partnership with GRID3 and Fab Inc. allowed us to understand the extent of school coverage in Sierra Leone (and where there were gaps in services) after rolling out the Free Quality School Education initiative in 2018.”
By the start of 2021, the government’s Free Quality School Education initiative increased school enrolment by 800,000. However, the increased enrolment is straining the country’s school system, affecting the availability of and access to educational resources. MBSSE officials saw the creation of a school infrastructure development plan, informed by detailed catchment area planning, as a necessary step towards achieving the guiding principles underpinning the initiative.
To inform the new policy, the GRID3 Sierra Leone team conducted a school coverage assessment with GRID3 population estimates, disaggregated by age using factors such as ownership (private vs. public schools), quality, and the geographic location of the school (urban vs. rural). They also provided suggestions for new classroom locations using a site optimisation tool developed by the GRID3 team at Flowminder.
These analyses paved the way for MBSSE to create objectives around educational planning. Some of these include ensuring that all infrastructure improvement activities follow a clear planning process, optimising the use of resources; and also ensuring all education-related construction and development activities are based on transparent projections of the school-age population.
MBSSE and relevant stakeholders will review the progress of the policy every five years to ensure that it is in line with current trends, regulations, and scientific evidence. GRID3 will continue to support the government in performing additional analyses that can help inform detailed policy guidelines in the coming months.
To read the full policy document, please click here.
Featured photo credit: MBSSE, School Infrastructure and Catchment Area Planning policy