Demand for higher education in Sierra Leone is on the rise, underpinned by population growth and accelerated economic expansion in the past ten years. As Sierra Leone recovers from the 1991- 2002 civil war, it has attractive economic prospects on the back of mining, agriculture and tourism. The country’s youthful population has expanded at 2.9% annually, increasing demand for higher education; at the same time, supply of higher education is growing, especially as private and foreign institutions set up in Sierra Leone.
Access to higher education for Sierra Leone’s poor and rural population remains a serious concern. Female enrolment has risen in the past decade, but women still make up only 36% of the student body in public institutions. Furthermore, the country’s infrastructure constraints are holding back the expansion of geographical coverage, the advancement of online education and the improvement of service delivery.
Currently, Sierra Leone’s higher education environment is not sufficiently producing the skills that are needed to underpin the country’s growth in areas such as mining, agriculture and tourism. There appears to be significant scope for improving budgetary efficiency in the public higher education sector and for developing a strategy to boost research activity across institutions.
Although Sierra Leone lacks a comprehensive policy for higher education, the government has started to set out quality-driven education strategies, placing stronger emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics. There are a number of examples of collaboration between the private sector, higher education institutions and government departments aimed at further developing the practical skills of graduates and increasing their employability.
Guerrero, C. Higher education case studies - Sierra Leone. Economist Intelligence Unit, London, UK (2014) 20 pp.