Sierra Leone Telegraph: 28 August 2019:
Sierra Leone’s Anti-Corruption Commissioner – Francis Ban Kaifala, has today warned schools in the country to desist from extorting money from parents, through various means, as well as receiving bribes.
“The Commission wishes to remind teachers and school authorities that receiving an advantage, whether solicited or not, is a crime under the Anti-Corruption Act 2008. Any teacher or school authority caught in the practice, and cannot provide policy justification, will be seriously dealt with in accordance with the law,” the Commission’s statement reads.
The Commission says that it has received several complaints from the public about school authorities engaging in extortion of monies from pupils, parents, and guardians before pupils can receive their exam results or be accepted into a school as new student.
But there are other dodgy schemes which parents and guardians are frowning upon, yet they are powerless to stop, such as the unnecessary and unlawful requirement for school children to forcibly take part in so called graduation ceremonies.
These graduation ceremonies for children as young as 5 years old, costing tens of thousands of Leones are not part of the official school curriculum requirements. But the government is turning a blind eye, as school authorities extort monies from poor hapless parents.
Parents are charged thousands of Leones for graduation gowns, new shoes, and of course the cash in brown envelope as thank you handshakes for teachers.
There are several cases where children are refused collecting their results or grades because they did not take their brown envelopes with them to the school authorities.
These corrupt practices are causing enormous hardship for patents, despite the government ‘s efforts in ensuring the success of its Free Quality Education Programme.
The high cost of living for ordinary Sierra Leoneans caused by inflation and poor exchange rates, is of serious concern to the government. Any additional costs imposed on parents by schools can only compound economic hardship in the country.
“I was approached by a lady seeking a loan for 50,000 Leones she said she needed to collect her son’s exams results. Another lady came to see me early in the morning seeking help to buy her daughter’s nursery graduation gown,” a local money lender told our reporter in Freetown.
The government needs to ban these unnecessary, so called graduation ceremonies that are designed to extort monies from parents of pupils, attending nursery and primary schools.
This is the statement issued today by the ACC: