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.
STOP SHAKING THE BLAME NET. May be my age will serve as a deterrent to go back to Sierra Leone’s educational history. But as a young man born in 1994, schooled in the uplands and continued my tertiary education in the cities: Makeni, Kabala and Freetown, I believe I can contribute to draw curtain on this door. When I was in my primaries, my headmaster,late Festus A.B Kai Kai, used to tell that Sierra Leone is the Athens of West Africa. He always made reference to FBC, where he schooled. This statement made me proud and heave to come to Freetown to enroll into the aforementioned university. In 2012/13, I applied with fulfillment of every criterion but alas! the system was the system – bribery and corruption blacklisted my success.
It was then I realized that the age long adage “Athens of W/Africa” is an adage in the past. I was left disappointed. My dream started freezing. Let me now go back to the current topic because if I choose to continue, my ink is set ready to pour nicely on the white squared papers. Beyond partisanship, the country’s education system has a lot of unfixed problems, which governments (APC and SLPP) cannot still solve. But how has different regimes showed interest, achievements and failures? bears the questions.
Yes! after the 11-year old civil destruct, the SABABU Education Project was a good initiative taken by the Kabbah’s SLPP led government. It received over 40 billion Leones for it’s implementation, but the funds were mismanaged and misappropriated. Contracts were given to unqualified relatives and opportunity given to relatives children (COI , 2007 report). We do know the system is the system, but progress was envisaged when the former APC regime brought more colleges, universities and Tec. Vocs. Are we forgetting the Limkokwing, UNIMAK, COMAS, IPAM as added learning institutions to the one-time-known university, FBC? We must not be blind.
Changes come either consciously or unconsciously. The System was changed from 6-3-3-4 to 6-3-4-4. Didn’t we see massive passes in public exams? Partisanship should not make us unpatriotic. Am not saying it doesn’t have its flaws but the reality is, we saw progress in the line. And for, and under the New Direction, we should not judge at first outcome but ‘first impression accounts for praise and hope.’ The Free and Quality Education scheme, under the New administration, has rediscovered unfixed problems. Hope they will surely fix them this time round, and avoid shaking the blame net. Government, whether good or bad, we must pray for our leaders to succeed. God bless mama Salone.
I personally believe that after the 2007 election, the foundation that late President Ahmed Tejan Kabba of the SLPP built by implementing the “ SABABU PROJECT “ did not only come under attack but was finally destroyed by President Koroma. He waisted our country’s resources by forming a commission of inquiry to investigate the then education minister who is now our current Minister of Health for corruption, in which he was indicated because he is a man of integrity and credibility.
Former President Koroma promised to run the nation like his business. Education became a business and a bidding process of which the highest bidder will pass an examination. Teaching became a lucrative business and because most teachers were not paid for months, some of them relied on proceeds from the money collected from students and sales from printed pamphlets. The other major effect of former president Koroma’s business declaration was the over crowding of our cities with young people who were supposed to be in school but chose to become businessmen or businesswomen which resulted in overcrowding of our streets and increased criminal activities .
Thanks to the Almighty because with focus of the New Direction of the current SLPP government of which education is the flagship program, the quality of our education will be enhanced. But unfortunately President Maada Bio and the Ministers of Education will have to start from scratch which requires sacrifice from the teachers, parents and students. As the saying goes “ Sometimes you have to go through HELL to get to HEAVEN “ .
so I hope and pray that instead of blaming the present government for the destruction that have been caused by the former APC government, the people of Sierra Leone should now focus on supporting the efforts of the New Direction towards Education instead of engaging in cheap political propaganda.