In its campaign named ‘Meet-the-School’, the Public Education Unit of the Anti-Corruption Commission’s (ACC) Northeast office has empowered teachers and pupils of the Sierra Leone Muslim Brotherhood (SLMB) Junior Secondary School in Makeni to outbrave corruption as a civic obligation to promote development in the country.
Specifically designed by the ACC to educate teachers and pupils about corruption, the event was held on the school premises with over 400 pupils who benefited from the anti-graft message on 9th November 2021.
In his remarks during the engagement, ACC Public Education Officer, Abdul Karim Bangura, stressed that the future of youngsters is a major consideration in the fight against corruption. He said corruption distorts the plausibility to nourish the potential of children to guarantee a better future, adding therefore that schools should be positive agents of socialization to instill good values in young learners. The ACC, Mr. Bangura explained, has for long teamed up with teachers and pupils across the country to ensure that action is taken against corruption in schools through solid information and education.
The Public Education Officer dilated on bribery and cheating in exams among instances of corruption he cited as prevalent in schools. According to Mr. Bangura, many pupils bribe teachers for passing grades, an act he described as quite harmful to genuine evaluation of pupils’ performance in tests and exams. He maintained that bribe for grades shuts off expected learning outcomes and virtually undermines the essence of determining the pupils’ total progress. ‘Grades are to be earned and not bought like goods off a stall,’ he admonished.
As to examination malpractices, he declared that the practice has been made a serious corruption offence as stipulated in the Anti-Corruption Act of 2008 which was amended in 2019 with the inclusion of more offences, tougher penalties, and strengthened witness protection, amongst other things. Section 128 of the Act has been amended, so that someone who engages in corrupt activity relative to a programme organized by a learning institution or examination body for their interest or someone else’s, commits an offence. When convicted, such a person will be fined not less than 50,000,000 Leones on a count or serve a prison term of not less than 5 years, or suffer both fine and jail term at once.
While the SLMB staff and pupils were encouraged to totally desist from corruption, Mr. Bangura assured them that the campaign against corruption is winnable. But that, he emphasized, is largely contingent on all citizens taking responsibility to also report alleged corruption to the ACC for prompt action. He lauded the teachers for the commitment to duty, but urged them to do more to support the Government’s drive to improve on the human capital development in the country.
In his contribution, ACC Public Education Officer, Aiah Sourie, revealed that Government with its partners is injecting staggering funds into promoting free quality education in an attempt to create opportunities for children to acquire knowledge and skills for improved future economic output. Thus, he implored the pupils to study well and hard in readiness for any assessments conducted by their teachers. He added: ‘It is a great opportunity to go to school without having to pay for fees and other charges. Seize the opportunity now and make the best of it.’
He encouraged the pupils to participate in the 2021 National Anti-Corruption Creative Competition by obtaining a Form from the ACC’s Northeast office on Mena Hills in Makeni. According to Mr. Sourie, persons interested in the competition are required to craft spoken words, video documentary, or painting, depicting corruption or means of combating same. The completed Form should be returned to the nearest ACC, Children and Youth Awareness Forum, AYV, or Africell offices nationwide and to WhatsApp number +23288453260. ‘Entries for the competition must be submitted on or before on 15 November 2021,’ he said.
Responding to the anti-graft message, Acting Vice Principal of the school Fullah Sesay thanked the ACC for its relentless drive to educate teachers as well as pupils on corruption. He guaranteed that his school would always support the ACC in its fight against corruption, particularly in the Northeast region of the country.
The engagement ended with the appointment of Osman Yusif Kamra, who teaches Introductory Technology, as the Teacher-Coordinator for the formation and management of a forty-member Integrity Club at the school.