Guidelines for Use of Subsidies Allocated To Government and Government-Assisted Schools
The Government of Sierra Leone has over time provided subsidies to approved Government and Government-assisted schools. There are no guidelines on what the schools are expected to use the money for and it is the sole responsibility of recipient schools to determine how to use the subsidies.
With the advent of Free Quality School Education (FQSE), more schools have applied for approval to receive financial assistance from the Government of Sierra Leone and, in the process, to benefit from school subsidies. The level of subsidy has been increased from 10,000 to 30,000 Leones per pupil per term for primary schools, from 20,000 to 50,000 Leones per term for junior secondary schools and from 50,000 to 60,000 Leones per term for senior secondary schools.
With increased enrolments arising from increased demand and the introduction of FQSE, the amount of resources being disbursed to approved schools in terms of teaching and learning materials, furniture, etc., as well as subsidies are quite substantial. As part of the FQSE, government is providing some of the key inputs to quality education in the form of textbooks for core subjects, teaching and learning materials, school registers and other non-teaching resources, as well as classroom/school infrastructure and furniture together with salaries for teachers that are on the government payroll. This means that the inputs from parents in the form of approved tuition fees are being taken over by government and necessitates the provision of guidelines on what the school subsidies should be used for, and being public funds, how they should be accounted for.
The purpose of school subsidies is, in addition to other provisions made by the Government, to significantly reduce the cost of schooling to parents/guardians and at the same time improve access and quality of schooling.
All Government and Government-assisted schools are eligible to benefit from school subsidies. In achieving its purpose, the subsidies will contribute to strengthening the implementation of the FQSE. In this regard, subsidies are to be used to support the goals of the FQSE in terms of Access, Equity (including Inclusiveness) and Completion; Quality, Relevance and Integrity; and System Strengthening at the school level in order to augment Government inputs.
Access, Equity (including inclusiveness) and Completion (Allocation 30%)
Access and Completion (Covers issues to do with enrolment, attendance, staying on and completing schooling) Under Access and Completion, the allocation is to be used for any one or more of the following:
• School maintenance, including school furniture
• Provision of remedial tuition, particularly for students falling behind in key subject areas
• Payment of utilities for schools with such facilities
• Provision of and maintenance of separate WASH facilities for male and female students
• Provision and maintenance of playing fields and other sporting activities for students
• General landscaping to make the school grounds neater
• Establishing and maintaining school gardens / farms
• An acceptable intervention from the school that would contribute towards improving access and/or completion in the school
Equity and Inclusiveness
(Covers issues to do with fairness / even-handedness in catering for / provisions for all children, irrespective of sex, age, ability, area/place of residence, religion, physical capabilities, etc.)
Under Equity and Inclusiveness, the allocation is to be used for any one or more of the following:
• Making school more accessible to learners with disabilities including toilets as needed
• Construction of changing rooms and separate toilets for girls
• Provision of additional ramps and affordable assistive devices
• An acceptable intervention from the school that would contribute towards improving equity and inclusiveness in the school
Quality, Relevance and Integrity (Allocation 50%)
Quality and Relevance
(Covers issues to do with making and sustaining the best and most appropriate provisions possible (i.e. provisions that best fit the Sierra Leone situation and pupils/people) and getting the best out of teachers, pupils and provisions made.)
Under quality and relevance the allocation are to be used for any one or more of the following:
• Payment of non-payroll staff
• Engagement of temporary and/or part time staff to fill gaps/shortages
• Provision of additional TLMs as needed
• Provision of readers to augment the core textbooks
• Provision of remedial lessons for students needing additional support/further strengthening
• Provision of bridging classes for disadvantaged students
• Organization and carrying out of field trips for students
• Provision of consumables for science, home economics and other subjects needing ‘practical work’
• Provision of ward-based and school level CPD programmes for teachers
• An acceptable intervention from the school that would contribute towards improving the quality of teaching and learning in the school
(Covers issues to do with honesty, trust-worthiness and moral principles)
Under integrity the allocation are to be used for any one or more of the following:
• Provisions to reduce exams malpractices
• Provision of teacher sign-in books for class prefects
• Computerised/Electronic records of all enrolled students with photographs and unique student IDs
• An acceptable intervention from the school that would contribute towards improving the integrity of staff and students in the school
System Strengthening (Allocation 20%)
(Covers issues to do with improving what currently exists in education – in particular – improving oversight, administration and service delivery in education)
Under systems strengthening the allocation are to be used for any one or more of the following:
• Improving data collection and its usage at the school level with a view to enabling more effective and efficient delivery of services
• Printing of examination questions and provision of answer sheets
• Computerising schools records
• Getting internet access for the school
• Facilitating the activities of Boards of Governors and School Management Committees and induction of these Boards and Committees
• Participating in Ward Education Committee meetings and workshops as required
• Facilitating meetings of the Community and the School Management
• Financing equipment and programmes for emergency and disaster management.
• An acceptable intervention from the school that would contribute towards improving the operations of the school
At the end of every school year, schools are required to produce School Improvement Plans (SIPs) in which their priorities in the foregoing areas for the new school year will be detailed together with the accompanying monitoring framework. The Inspectorate Directorate will provide support to schools in this regard as part of its quality assurance work. The targets are to be agreed with the District Education Office (DEO) and respective Ward Education Committees. Following agreement on the targets, an electronic copy of the SIP is to be given to the head of the DEO i.e. the Deputy Director (DD) of Education in charge of the District Education Office or the Director of Education, when such a position becomes official. Actual enrolments for the new school year are to be provided to the DEO by 15 November each year. School heads providing false enrolment numbers risk being dismissed. Verification of attainment of the targets is the responsibility of the DEO. The DEOs will forward copies of SIPs received and verification reports to the Inspectorate/Quality Assurance Directorate at MBSSE Headquarters.
Accounting for the Funds
1. The Board of Governors/School Management Committees shall be the custodian of the resources allocated to the school. They are to:
a. Inform the community of the amount the school has received through a meeting and posting on the school notice board and/or local radio
b. Make decisions on expenditure of these resources in consultation with the school, Community and Teacher Association (CTA) and community members.
c. Keep minutes of these decisions made and make them available to any member of the community for scrutiny.
2. The Board/Committee shall establish a procurement committee which will make procurement recommendations to the Board/Committee. Procurement should follow Government Procurement Procedures/Rules.
3. Expenditures of the resources should be posted on the school noticeboard for the community members to scrutinize.
4. Schools are to maintain the following records, to the extent possible, which must be made available to MBSSE Inspectors, Supervisors and the Ministry’s Internal Auditors when required:
• Bank statements to show receipt of funds and withdrawals
• Expenditure through cashbooks, receipts, stock books and other relevant documents
• Procurement documents such as Minutes of School Procurement Committee meetings, local purchase orders (LPOs), quotations, goods delivery notes and goods received notes
• Store ledgers with records receipts and issues of goods and services procured
• Receipts and issues of stores, maintained in the stock book.
5. Allocation of the next round of subsidies will be done after full retirement of the previous subsidies that were allocated to the school. In this regard, schools are advised to have funds committed and relevant receipts obtained and submitted to the DEO no later than 17 working days before the end of each term for urgent forwarding to the Planning and Policy Directorate through the Inspectorate / Quality Assurance Directorate. The DEO is to take no longer than 2 days after receipt before forwarding to MBSSE HQ