Sierra Leone Telegraph: 21 May 2019:
There were ugly violent scenes outside a secondary school in Freetown last week, where pupils ran amok with police officers firing tear gas to control the riotous behavior of the pupils.
Dozens of pupils are now in police custody. But there are concerns they are being deprived of their human rights – especially preventing them from taking their WASSCE examination.
The cause of the rioting by the school pupils is unclear. But it is understood that some pupils were caught cheating by examination officers, and when apprehended – a group of pupils attacked the teachers and threw stones at vehicles, causing damage.
The police were able to return calm after several hours of running battle with the pupils, dozens of whom are now in police custody.
Responding to the rioting, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education – Alpha Osman Timbo and senior staff of his ministry have embarked on what the ministry describes as “a national social mobilization in Sierra Leone to condemn the ongoing violence by students against Education officials who are stringently monitoring the public examinations (WASSCE) in the country”.
According to the ministry, “the Minister and his upper management officials send tough messages to those who are undermining the quality of education in Sierra Leone”.
You can watch the minister and his officials speaking to stakeholders:
Indeed, such a glaring red flag and signal, should be enough to awaken all of us from our deepest slumber! No kidding at all! When things like this happen, concerns and fear that the moral fabric and cohesiveness of our society is on the brink of collapse, should not be regarded as unfounded and taken lightly.
Older generations are solely to be blamed. We have failed the youths miserably. As there are two sides to a coin,so also are there two sides to every story. I believe the students will have a lot to say if we ask them to express their grievances.
Arresting those caught involved in disruptive acts will only bring a temporary solution – the root cause of anger and discontent being displayed by the Children must carefully be addressed.
I expected the Minister to be responsible enough to say something along those lines, but instead his poor judgement, half-wittedness and ineptitude could be heard as loud as a trumpet in his ill advised threats, that he will not spare but severely punish offenders…No solutions whatsoever, no opportunities for dialogue between students and their educators, nothing!
Again, no expressions of understanding and consolations towards the children involved – absolutely nothing, only cold-hearted reproach and reckless indifference! But remember, to these people – Mr Timbo and his pathetic, amateurish crew, foolhardy threats are seen as being more effective than constructive dialogue.
It angers me to see how unskilled, unprofessional and impractical these guys can be, when handling even the most trivial matters, problems and challenges they are confronted with. The Children are the future leaders of our nation, and we must always be mindful of that truth.
We must strive to treat and handle them with care, dignity and respect. Discipline has its place when they get out of line – but not too harshly, like using tactics of terror, brute force and throwing them behind bars. This is totally unacceptable, repulsive and sickening.
The root causes must first be addressed, otherwise such incidents of violence, unruliness and outright display of anger will never ever cease; they will become like forest fires, when quenched in one place, they erupt and burst out into flames again, in another. Examine the symptoms first, then treat the disease and it will go away, and never return.
Children we ask forgiveness – society has failed you like a crippled man whose only wheelchair has been stolen, leaving him stranded, perplexed, at a loss for words with nowhere to go. Be patient and we will make all things right…In a little while, in a twinkle of an eye – And The Rising Sun Will Rise Again.