The head of the Anti- Corruption Commission (ACC) in the North- West Region, Al-Hassan Sesay has urged management and staff of the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) in Kambia district to direct all energies aimed at restoring standards in the education sector.
The engagement according to the Senior Public Education Officer was to engage staff and management of the ministry on critical issues relating to their operations. He also explained the three pronged approaches to the fight against corruption.
In his keynote address to administrators and staff of the Ministry and the Teaching Service Commission, the Regional Manager stated that the drop in the standard of education was as a result of the sustained presence of corruption in the sector adding that the Commission is concerned and committed to bringing sanity to the education sector. He went on to note that working in the ministry or the TSC either on voluntary and on casual basis makes all of the staff public officers and by extension are covered by the ACC laws. He therefore cautioned them to be cognizant of the law and the eagle’s eye of the ACC in the region.
Commenting on the significance of demonstrating a high sense of integrity and maintaining best practices, the Regional Head pointed out that issues relating to illegal charges, abandonment of post by teachers without due process, inflation of school rolls, misappropriation of school fees subsidies, ghost schools, clearance obtained from the ministry before accessing subsidies, double accounts among others are of great concern to the ACC. He emphasized that the Commission is committed to changing the narrative and will take appropriate actions to address these inadequacies.
Senior Investigation Officer Bernard Dixon who spoke on offences contained in the Anti-Corruption Act underscored the significance of collective action to the fight against graft. He made a comprehensible explanation of related corruption offences relating to conspiracy to commit a corruption offence, misappropriation of public and or donor funds, abuse of office and position, soliciting and accepting advantage among other things. Whilst emphasizing the importance of accountability, Mr Dixon noted that proactive and strategic approach to investigations will be seen across the region.
Public Education Officer Mohamed Thullah who spoke on ethics in the workplace said ethics is an essential component of integrity that regulates the conduct, attitude and behavior of public officers to be professional in the line of duty and encouraged them to maintain high ethical standards in their daily operations. He called on senior management of both institutions to put internal control measures that will address absenteeism, time theft, attendance, impersonation and also highlighted various methods of reporting corruption to ACC.
Earlier in his welcome statement, the Deputy Director of MBSSE in Kambia Alpha Sesay lauded the initiative to engage and educate their staff on corruption issues and to also guide their conduct in the process of delivering quality education to the people of Sierra Leone. As head of the ministry in the district, he promised to be supportive of the fight against corruption and to take necessary actions to the issues raised.
The Deputy Director of the TSC in the district Paul Kamara expressed concerns about the alarming rate of abandonment of teachers in the district and explained procedure of recruitment, transfer and other related issues on the welfare of teachers.
Presentation of IEC materials and question and answer session formed part of the engagement.