President Dr Julius Maada Bio has celebrated the dedication of teachers at the second Presidential National Best Teacher Awards ceremony and encouraged recipients to be more committed to teaching children in schools.
The awards, which were presented to Joseph Kamara for Primary School level and Madam Isatu Aminata Peacock for Secondary School level, were a pronouncement made by President Bio at the State Opening of Parliament in 2018, as a way to recognise and appreciate the most innovative, ingenious and dedicated teachers at district, regional and national levels.
“I want to start by congratulating all pupils who have successfully passed their transition exams this year – the National Primary School Examination, the Basic Education Certificate Examination, and the West African Senior Secondary Certificate Examinations. We have a record number of learners who now have an option to transition into secondary school, tertiary, and higher education right through Sierra Leone. With good quality education, some are also directly transitioning into work and entrepreneurship. We are proud of you.
“But I especially want to thank all the teachers who have put in so much work for us to see this important development in our country. The education transformation that is happening in our country would not be possible without you – diligent, trained and qualified teachers. This is why we are here today. To honour and celebrate our teachers in the Second Presidential National Best Teacher Awards,” he said.
President Bio also noted that it wasn’t until 2018 when his government took office that the transformation of teachers, teaching and the teaching profession took a great leap for the better, adding that they had so in order to address questions around access, inclusion, quality, retention, completion, and transition to technical, vocational, and higher education.
“As promised to the people of this country, we quickly expanded the Teaching Service Commission nationwide and developed a ‘Professional Standards for Teachers and School Leaders’. The Teaching Service Commission – TSC itself was established in 2011 but it wasn’t until 2016 that the Commission was inaugurated. However, it only became fully functional in 2018 – thanks to my government’s increased investment in teachers.
“My Cabinet has endorsed more than half a dozen policies related to Teacher Recruitment, Teacher Retention, Teacher Transfer, Grievance Redress, and Professional Development. These are not just words, Distinguished ladies and gentlemen. These policies are in full implementation and I personally closely monitor them. And beyond those policies, we believe that a moment like this, where we pause to celebrate deserving teachers for their roles in classrooms, the community and the country can only be good for the profession and our country,” he concluded.
In her statement, World Bank Representative, Madam Lydia Mesfin Asseres, said teachers were important support systems to students as they served beyond being a source of model and guidance to being the most important capital in the life of the student.
She also stated that notwithstanding the Covid-19 pandemic, which obstructed many things around the world, teachers had been working tirelessly to ensure that learning went on, and Sierra Leone teachers were no exception.
Madam Asseres commended the leadership of President Bio for transforming education and making human capital development a priority and pledged the support of the Bank, Irish Aid, European Union and the FDO support to the Sierra Leone best teacher awards.
Chairperson Teaching Service Commission, Conrad Omalikeh Sackey, disclosed that they had secured funds to construct training centers for teachers.
Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Dr David Moinina Sengeh, told the gathering that as a government they would continue to promote radical inclusion and had now extended that to how they trained and recruited teachers.
He disclosed that over the last four years government had spent over 1 billion dollars on the training of teachers around the country.
He furthered that winners from the maiden edition of the presidential best teacher awards had been very supportive of the education system and that they continued to use their prize monies to transform education in their communities through developing learning and teaching guides, which were not only being used by their schools but by children around the country.
“I believe Sierra Leone is on a path of a truly inclusive society. I do believe that 100% of our children will transition through basic education,” he ended.