Maps and Meaning – Sierra Leone’s Digital School Census and what it means for school-level location and accessibility data collection

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In 2018, the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) in Sierra Leone launched the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) programme, making free education compulsory for children up to the age of 18. Described by a spokesperson of the MBSSE as “the most realistic way of developing the human capital of our country and moving Sierra Leone forward” (Sheriff, 2019), the programme saw a surge in enrolment in schools. However, a side effect of this surge in enrolment was increased difficulty in accurately monitoring the education system. MBSSE moved forward from their paper-based Annual School Census to a new digital census to achieve this.

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