The Southern Region office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has conveyed integrity messages to teachers and pupils of the Bonthe Secondary and St. Joseph’s Vocational Secondary Schools in Bonthe, Sherbro Island; and the Centennial Secondary and Islamic Call Society Secondary Schools in Mattru Jong, Bonthe District. The ‘Meet the School’ events were held at the various schools campuses on Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th October, 2021.
In his statement, the Southern Region Manager of the ACC Momodu Sittar, described education as a tool to help shape the life of an individual from childhood to adulthood. Mr. Sittar admitted that corruption has the potential to thwart the gains the country has recorded in the education sector unless conscious efforts are made to collectively battle the scourge of corruption. “Corruption has devastating consequences on the growth of pupils’ mental aptitude and attitude, therefore it is imperative on pupils and teachers to join forces with the Commission by standing against rogues, so that the stride Government is making to improve on the quality aspect of education would not be futile,” he said. Mr. Sittar encouraged the pupils to desist from malpractices and imbibe values that will make them models among their peers.
Senior Public Education Officer ACC Abdulai Saccoh said, the sustained awareness raising campaign the Commission has embarked on in schools is a testament of its commitment to ensuring that pupils cultivate integrity values. “It is easy to bend a tree while it is still young than to wait till it becomes old, hard and uncontrollable,” Mr. Saccoh underscored. He reminisced the country’s past education glory, when it was referred to as the citadel of academic excellence in West Africa. “But this height of excellence has been eroded due to corruption,” he noted.
Mr. Saccoh highlighted a number of corruption practices that has contributed to the decline in education standards. He acknowledged some of the challenges schools are confronted with but cautioned that teachers and school administrations should not use them as a pretext to involve in corrupt practices. He reminded teachers and pupils of the offence of academic malpractices, warning that upon conviction the court will impose a fine of not less than Fifty Million Leones, a five year imprisonment or both fine and prison term.
Earlier, ACC’s Public Education Officer, Yangie Deborah Sesay described the engagement as the Commission’s public education drive to educate teachers and pupils on illegal practices in schools, and to enlighten them on some of the offences and penalties as enshrined in the Anti-Corruption Act 2008 as amended in 2019. Miss Sesay said that the anti-corruption messages provided to pupils and teachers suggest the Commission’s determination to enlist them in the fight against corruption. She shared the various reporting phone numbers of the Commission and encouraged them to report incidences of corruption they may experience in schools or their communities.
Pupils of the various schools commended the ACC for the engagements, especially on issues related to integrity, the operations of the Commission, malpractices in the education sector and the modes of reporting to the Commission. They assured the ACC of their determination to join the fight against corruption and report any acts of corruption promptly.
School authorities and teachers appreciated Government’s positive strides towards the education sector but appealed for the payment of salary to approved and pin-coded teachers.