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Appalling educational standard in Bonthe district

…No water, toilet facility in over 200 primary schools

January 30, 2017 By Joseph S. Margai

A Baseline Assessment Report on the status of primary education in Bonthe district has revealed that over 160 primary schools were operating without water facility, while 152 have no toilet facility.

The survey was conducted by a consultant hired by the Bonthe District Council with funds from the European Union.

Explaining the findings of the survey on Tuesday (January 24th) at the Bonthe District Council hall, the consultant, Swalihu K. Jusu, said the educational standard in the district was appalling because there were factors hindering the achievement of quality education in the district.

“There are 48.5% of primary schools that do not have permanent physical structure. 90 schools are in poor condition and 57 of them are in need of repairs,” he quoted from the report.

He said the report further revealed that only 100 primary schools in Bonthe district have furniture, while 128 were without.

“The report revealed that 11.5% of the teachers in the primary schools have Higher Teacher’s Certificate for primary schools (HTC P). 53.3% of them are untrained and unqualified. 32.9% of them have Teacher’s Certificate (TC) and 2.3% of them have Teacher’s Elementary Certificate,” he stated.

The consultant further disclosed that about 64,234 pupils attending primary schools in Bonthe district, which amounts to 32% and that 17% of them were out of school.

“According to the report, in 2016, the total number of enrollment in the primary school was 53, 570. There were 27,543 (51%) of girls and 26,077 (49%) of boys enrolled,” he said.

He said there were social factors that undermine quality primary education in Bonthe district including teenage pregnancy, early marriage, lack of trained and qualified teachers, and the unavailability of water and toilet facilities, among others.

“From the report, we were able to know that currently, 53% of the primary school girls have been lost to early marriage. Early marriage and teenage pregnancy are prevalent in Bonthe district,” he said.

Also speaking, Acting Coordinator of the newly awarded EU Project to Bonthe District Council, Raman Tom Farma, said the project was educational focused and that it came about after previous reports revealed that standard of education was appalling in the district.

“There were lots of challenges which include untrained and unqualified teachers, mass drop-outs of school children, teenage pregnancy, early marriage, dilapidating school structures, among others,” he said.

He added that there were children sitting under trees, some use churches and mosques to take class, and that the most striking  reason that prompted them to  write  the EU project proposal was that some primary schools in four chiefdoms were not writing the National Primary School Examinations (NPSE).

 “This newly EU awarded project will help to train untrained and unqualified (UU) teachers in some of the primary schools. The report of the baseline survey has told us that the issue of UU teachers is a concern for us and we should address it,” he said.

He noted that there were some pupils in class six that did not know how to speak English, but only speak Mende,and that it was on the basis of those numerous problems in the education system that urged the Bonthe District Council to hire a consultant to conduct a baseline assessment survey.