Anti-Corruption Commission warns schools against extortion of money from parents

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:

4 Comments

  1. The government needs to increase the salaries of teachers before chasing them. Can you imagine a senior teacher take home salary is one million three thousand Leones. What a shame. That money is too little, looking at the economic hardship.

  2. A warning is not sufficient. The Anti-Corruption Commission needs to set an example by dragging unscrupulous school administrators to court and charging them with corruption. There are folks that would stop at nothing to undermine the efforts of the Government of Sierra Leone in creating an environment for growth and prosperity in the country. If they are not disrupting the electoral process by unleashing violence on innocent citizens, they are undermining the president’s impressive Free Quality Education Program.

    These are the same folks that are using their connections with hypocritical organizations like Amnesty International to undermine a progressive government. One might ask if human rights violations only take place in Africa. Where is Amnesty International when civilians are gunned down by trigger-happy police officers in developed countries?

    • Oh Mr. Bakarr, please take off your political parties’ blinkers. All over the world, we had to fight human right abuses – also in Germany or the USA, often against black people and migrants. The growing racism and right wing ideology all over the world is alarming. Against this, we have to stand up.

  3. What is the INSPECTOR of schools department doing? Does the department no longer exists? If this very important department no longer exists, then the government must try and establish one. If it does exists, then they should be held accountable for such MALPRACTICE. Instead of the ACC wasting time with school officials, it should just call on the INSPECTORS of SCHOOLS for explanation.

    The government must also give powers to the INSPECTORS of SCHOOLS to carry out their job correctly and report malpractice to the ACC for ACTION. This in my view will be the most effective way to handle unscrupulous and rogue activities in our schools and colleges.

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