The meeting attracted staff of the Bombali District Education Office, Principals, Head teachers and Chairpersons of Community Teachers Association (CTA) of the various schools and a cross-section of school-going pupils in Makeni and its environs.
In his welcome statement, ACC Regional Manager, North Abu Bakarr Kamara, expressed delight to the audience on their large turnout and described it as a demonstration of their resolve to collaborate with and support the ACC to weed out bribery and petty corruption in schools.
Dilating on the role of education stakeholders in the PNB, Manager Kamara said the education sector is the architect of a country’s development agenda. He added that Principals and Head teachers are crucial to a nation’s growth due to their invaluable contribution in shaping and nurturing the lives of the pupils who are the future of Sierra Leone. Manager Kamara stated that bribery and petty corruption is now systemic and as such, requires the conscious effort and will of school authorities to put a halt to it. He described corruption in schools as one which has the potency to inflict irreparable loss of the country’s human resource capacity. He reminded education authorities of their role to institute and enforce discipline in educational institutions. Manager Kamara reminded school authorities that the Pay No Bribe campaign sits strategically among H.E. the President’s Recovery Priorities; as such it is incumbent on them to ensure that bribery and other vices in our education system are eradicated.
ACC Public Education Officer Abdulai Saccoh, in giving an overview of the Pay No Bribe campaign. stated that the PNB is an initiative of the UK Government and the Government of Sierra Leone, in response to the 2013 Afro Barometer Survey which indicated that 84% of the respondents interviewed in Sierra Leone admitted to have either given or accepted a bribe to access public services. In the following year this trend witnessed an improvement as there was a drop to 53% in the number of respondents who accepted to have either given or accepted a bribe.
The Public Education Officer furthered that the PNB is an anonymous reporting platform that encouraged citizen to report petty corruption and bribery through the PNB reporting platform. He informed his audience that the PNB is being piloted for six (6) months, in the five districts of Bombali, Bo, Kenema, Western Area Rural and Western Area Urban, targeting 5 (five) sectors in the country; namely: Sierra Leone Police, education, health, water and energy sectors. He disclosed that ACC is jointly implementing the PNB in the Bombali District with a civil society organization called MADAM Sierra Leone.
Speaking on the role of District Education Office, the Senior Inspector of Schools Gibrilla Sesay said their role is to monitor, support and create an enabling educational environment for learning in the district. He added that his office has been very supportive of ACC’s initiative to curb corruption in schools. Mr. Sesay assured the ACC of their continued commitment to curb bribery in schools. The Senior Inspector of Schools informed his audience that the PNB has freshly reinvigorated them as education authorities and told his audience that his office would employ appropriate strategies to rid educational institutions of corruption. He called on all Principals and Head teachers to heed to ACC’s advice.
Explaining the causes and effects of bribery in schools, ACC Senior Public Education Officer David Kanekey Conteh described bribe as anything of monetary value an individual gives or receives as an inducement for him/her to either abstain from carrying out his duties, or expedite the process. Conteh stated that bribery is a two way issue between the giver and receiver to attract benefits. The Senior Public Education Officer catalogued some occurrences of bribery in areas such as: admission, grades, promotion, presentation of assignment, fees, etc. He added that, the effects of bribery in schools will lead to; a decline in the standards of education, mediocrity as against meritocracy, high rate teenage pregnancy, high rate of school dropout and other vices in the country.
Speaking on the role of MADAM and the community in the PNB, Yayah T. Turay from MADAM Sierra Leone, said their role as civil society organization does not go beyond community mobilization and awareness raising on the PNB. Turay added that their key function is making bribery reporting accessible to community people. He demonstrated on how to use the reporting application in our local languages and also gave out the PNB hotline which is 515 for all networks.
The event was chaired by Sheku Raymond Sesay, National President Conference of Principals Sierra Leone who is the Principal of Birch Memorial Junior Secondary School.
The meeting was climaxed with a skirt performed by Students with Awareness for Positive Change (SWAP for Change) dubbed ”Gangsterism and the effects of corruption in the education sector”.