PUAWUI – DR. SAMA BANYA: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 12 September 2019:
Since the West Africa Examination Council published the results of the O’ level examination, the news media and especially social media have been inundated with discussions on the reasons for the very poor results this year.
The loudest noise has naturally come from the affected failed students, and not surprisingly, from members of the opposition APC as well. They are raising hue and cry over the very poor nationwide performance of candidates. They have even alleged that the poor performance is a result of the low standard of the FREE QUALITY EDUCATION introduced by the Bio administration in 2018.
They have however failed to ask themselves when the rot set in. For the answer to that, one must go back to the appointment of a reclusive, couldn’t-care-less minister of education – Minkailu Bah, a professional engineer turned Education minister in the Ernest Bai Koroma administration. The man spent most of his eleven years in power chasing GHOST teachers.
When the Ministry of Education under his leadership took cognisance of the increasingly poor examination results, he set up the Gbamanja Commission to look into the causes.
I am not sure of the other detailed findings but to most of us members of the general public, the main recommendation was to add an additional year ipso facto extra financial burden, to the secondary school system.
In place of the existing 6-3-3-4 they introduced the 6-3-4-4. Whilst this change was going on, there was a more alarming and immoral practice among various schools. Yes, there were disclosures of leakages, cheating, and sex for result and money for grades in the system.
These should have taken the attention of Dr Minkailu Bah and his Gbamanja Commission; but like I have already stated, he appeared to have had an obsession with Ghost teachers.
His appointed chief Education officer, one Alhajie Kamara was almost boasting before the COI how much his previous minister had saved the government in his search for ghost teachers.
While the man continued with his nonchalant attitude, there were hundreds and hundreds of teachers many of whom have been teaching for over five years that had not been issued with SIM cards, and therefore remained mere volunteer teachers.
The abominable malpractice was not limited to the schools but had extended its destructive tentacles to the universities and colleges, including the Law school. One often witnessed the spectacle of a division two Bachelor of Arts graduate whose English was far below that of a form five pupil of yester-years.
One of the priorities in the Bio and SLPP election manifesto was that it would tear down the rotten system and introduce not just free but QUALITY Education, which is what we have today.
The proposals were ridiculed by members of the APC administration and their allies, as over- ambitious and unachievable.
The opposition Presidential candidate was also ridiculed and taunted after an interview over the BBC because he could not give an accurate figure for the cost of the proposed free quality education or how it was going to be financed.
But he and his team having done their homework on the proposal and with determination, he told his interviewer bravely that the money would come from leakages in the financial management of the country’s resources under the then administration.
My goodness! From what is being revealed before the various Commissions of Inquiry today, was that not an understatement? They are not simply leakages but bore holes and tunnels in the entire financial administration of the last government.
This government has not only succeeded in blocking the tunnels and leakages but has successfully discovered why educational standards have declined so conspicuously in recent times.
The result is where we find ourselves today. It is because they have successfully detected the various examination malpractices and their perpetrators, and by putting an effective system in place that we are beginning to note the difference.
We have seen very realistic WAEC results much to the discomfiture of the various culprits involved.
But it is the share audacity of the current perpetrators who have been caught red handed that amazes me. How could they dare even as public attention is focused on the system and on their misdeeds?
I am not one of those hypocrites who subscribe to the notion of abuse of human rights or due process. The results that we have got from WAEC today are practical, realistic and credible.
There are voices of desperate affected students who are pouring invective on the government in general and WAEC in particular for their not surprisingly poor performance.
The system will change and this country will continue to be in the news for the right reasons henceforth. PAOPA SALONE GO BETTEH.