n his opening statement, the Deputy Director of Education, Kono District, Brima Thaimu Koroma, said that the meeting was called to identify and frankly discuss challenges within schools, and to ensure that school leaders, as well as other stakeholders in the education sector, work assiduously to score highly on the Free Quality Education programme in the district.
Mr. Koroma pointed out that school administrators and teachers stand in a strategic position to make sure that the Government’s fervent promise on the Free Quality Education in the country generally, and in Kono District specifically, is delivered. He said he finds difficulty in understanding why any school administrator or teacher would shirk service to children and yet gladly receive salary at the end of every month.
The Deputy Director stressed that schools in the district have been dogged by challenges largely stemming from weak administration, indiscipline mostly on the part of teachers, and poor teaching techniques. Mr. Koroma revealed that parents and guardians as well as pupils have also contributed to the issues that affect schools in the district. However, he implored everyone to work hard as his office has no room for any ‘sacred cows’ with regard to quality service delivery.
On issues of integrity in schools, the Deputy Director MBSSE remarked that payment for grades in schools, as well as other professional misconducts, is rife with huge negative effects on the overall educational development of the child. He admonished school leaders to ensure their teachers refrain from such and other corrupt practices within the school system to help in the smooth delivery of free quality education in every corner of Kono district.
‘The kids are the seeds of society, and we all should nurse them well for the good of our beloved country. But if we instead extort money from them, they learn from what we do to them, and consequently they do likewise. Early childhood development is very key in education and teachers ought not to forget that. They must change their behaviour, and keep the school free of corruption,’ Mr. Koroma implored his audience.
In the bid to stem indiscipline in the schools, the Deputy Director MBSSE presented a document on measures to be instituted. He said the document had been developed from consultations with education stakeholders in the district to create a more suitable teaching, learning, and administrative environment in the district noting, it also seeks to stifle corruption and corrupt practices in the schools.
On his part, the ACC Sub Regional Manager, Wilfred Bangura, said the ACC works closely with the MBSSE to ensure adopting best practices in the education sector, disclosing that the meeting was one of several joint engagements. He spoke mainly about fake certificates, absenteeism, soliciting and accepting bribe, and payment for homework as some of the thorny corruption issues in schools. He assured the audience that the ACC has stepped up the fight against corruption through its prevention, investigation, and prosecution approaches. Mr. Bangura forewarned all to refrain from corruption to avoid prosecution, citing some recent convictions secured by the ACC, including that of Emmanuel Shears Moses, former Acting Head of Law Department at Fourah College, who was recently convicted on two counts of abuse of office and fined a total sum of sixty million Leones (Le 60,000.000.00.)
The Manager disclosed that the ACC has reached settlements with current and former public officers and businesses to recover public funds. He made known to everyone in the meeting that the ACC has recovered approximately Twelve Billion Leones (Le12,000,000,000); part of which has been paid into the consolidated revenue fund.
Another key speaker was the Deputy Director of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC), Max Fallah Sengu, who said his office is mainly charged with the role of recruiting, registering, and licensing teachers; and working with other education players. He noted that the TSC office was recently opened to the public in Kono district in February 2019. Giving a brief background to the TSC, the Deputy Director explained that the 1995 Education Review recommended the formation of the Commission, which was given legality by an Act of Parliament in 2011.
According to Mr. Sengu, the Government has budgeted for the recruitment of five thousand teachers. Out of this number, one thousand two hundred teachers had already been recruited and placed in schools approved by the previous Government. There are currently three thousand eight hundred vacancies left, he added. He further explained that the TSC will shortlist all applicants at district level, and forward names of shortlisted candidates to the managers, proprietors, or education secretaries of schools for interviews in March 2019.
Other speakers who made meaningful contributions were, the Chairman-Conference of Principals for Secondary Schools, the Sierra Leone Police, and a representative of the Sierra Leone Teachers Union.