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Guidelines for Use of Subsidies Allocated to Government and Government Assisted Schools (Draft)

MBSSE's flagship program is the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) initiative. With FQSE, school enrolment is at zero cost to parents and learners from pre-primary through senior secondary because of tuition subsidies. These guidelines are for schools' use of those resources.

Published onMay 15, 2020
Guidelines for Use of Subsidies Allocated to Government and Government Assisted Schools (Draft)




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

Operational Details

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:

    1. Inform the community of the amount the school has received through a meeting and posting on the school notice board and/or local radio

    2. Make decisions on expenditure of these resources in consultation with the school, Community and Teacher Association (CTA) and community members.

    3. 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.

  1. 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

Abu Kamara:



Every child has the right to a quality education and a conducive environment that enables them to fully learn and thrive, which includes access to drinking water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) services while at school. Children spend a significant portion of their day at school where WASH services can impact their learning, health, and dignity, particularly for girls.[1]  WASH in school was included in the Sustainable Development Goals (targets 4.a, 6.1, 6.2) which clearly shows it importance and increasing recognition as part of human development.

The provision of WASH in schools in Sierra Leone is insufficient and does not meet national policies that mandate provision of quantities of water for drinking and sanitation and necessary facilities for proper sanitation and hygiene. Findings first revealed by the Audit Service Sierra Leone through their Performance Audit Report on School Facilities Management 2018[2]. The report find out that among other things the following:

·         Schools without water supply facilities: 17% of the sampled schools (representing 6 out of the 35 schools visited) did not have water supply facilities. This scenario could expose 13,394 pupils to diseases related to poor sanitation and hygiene.

·         Schools with limited water supply facilities: Only 34.4% of the sampled schools (10 schools out of 29) had wells. These wells dry up during the dry season, and a scenario of this nature meant insufficient water supply throughout the year and this may have posed risks to the health of teachers and children alike. 

·         Insufficient drop holes in schools: We noted that none of the 35 sampled schools visited had the required ratio of drop holes per either boys or girls. While the standard required is one drop hole per 45 pupils, the average ratio for the 35 sampled schools visited in the provinces was 1 drop hole per 144 pupils. The Western Area Urban District had the worst drop hole per pupil ratio of 248 pupils per drop hole

·         The toilets were hardly clean and in addition to this, no hand washing facilities were found in most of the schools visited. In fact, only four schools had such hand washing facilities but even in this case, the children didn’t have soap for hand washing. This may have highly exposed the pupils to diseases related to poor hygiene and sanitation.

These findings are confirmed by a recent nationwide education census done by the DSTI[3] and Ministry of Education.  The survey among others find out the following related to WASH:

·         21% (2,218) of schools in Sierra Leone do not have WASH facilities hence exposing approximately 416,319 pupils to disease related to poor sanitation and hygiene

·         Of the 79% (8,529) of schools that have toilet facilities, 29% of their toilet is not in good condition further exposing approximately  454,189 pupils to disease course by poor WASH facilities

·         29% (3,162) of schools do not have drinking water leaving approximately 574,917 pupils without drinking water

·         Of those that have drinking water, 18% of the schools do not have protected drinking water hence exposing approximately 292,613 to disease related to lack of clean drinking water.

Because every child deserves WASH in Schools, we are calling for renewed commitments to:

  • Set minimum standards for WASH in Schools. Formulate and implement national, regional and local standards for WASH in Schools, based on UNICEF-World Health Organization guidelines. The minimum standards for WASH in Schools should be specific to each district’s context. These standards should be the basis for national action plans and budgeting for education and WASH.
    that aim to reach all schools within a concrete time frame and should allow for gradual improvements to facilities and hygiene practices.

  • Robust Monitoring of WASH in Schools coverage using Education Management Information Systems (EMIS). Raise the profile for inclusion of WASH in Schools indicators in EMIS. Analyse data annually and use the findings for informed decision making and better resource allocation. Support the compilation of data on coverage and practices diverse levels to attract attention and funding to WASH in Schools.

·        Integrate WASH Into Education. Ensure WASH becomes a stand alone intervention focus on the use of school fees subsidies. Emphasizing on the need for conducive and enable spaces for learning Make the School Sanitation and Hygiene Education Programme and particularly, separate sanitation facilities for boys and girls; ensuring that at least 15% of the school fees subsidies be committed to addressing the WASH needs across schools.





Abu Kamara:

This is an input from the Budget Advocacy Network, WASH-Net and Education for All Coalition