Majority of Sierra Leoneans like universal free education but call for greater investment, new Afrobarometer study shows

An overwhelming majority of Sierra Leoneans say they or a member of their family have benefited directly from the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) policy by getting free schooling for children or students in their families, a new Afrobarometer survey shows.

Sierra Leoneans largely support the FQSE policy for all grade levels, and many oppose the idea of limiting free education in order to save money. A large majority give the government positive ratings for its performance in addressing educational needs (at least before recent school closings due to COVID-19 presented a whole new set of challenges). But only about half of citizens say the quality of education has improved under FQSE, and a majority want the government to invest more resources to ensure a high-quality education for all.

Sierra Leone is making significant gains in school enrollment, but learning outcomes, literacy levels, and skills acquisition are among the lowest in sub-Saharan Africa. According to the United Nations Development Programme, Sierra Leone's Human Development Index values place close to the bottom – 181st of 189 countries.