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As schools reopen today…

ACC engages Principals in Kenema & Kailahun

April 14, 2015 By Mohamed Massaquoi

A team from the regional office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Kenema yesterday met with Principals from various secondary schools in the Kenema and Kailahun districts to discuss pertinent issues regarding the reopening of schools today.

The meeting, which was also attended by officials from the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and representatives from the Conference of Principals of schools in that part of the country, discussed measures local authorities should put in place in ensuring a smooth transition back to school for thousands of pupils and students in both districts.

During the engagement, ACC Regional Coordinator, Mohamed Silvanus Blake, assured schools authorities of the commission’s continued support in maintaining transparency and accountability in carrying out their responsibilities.

He said the commission was strongly against misappropriation of monies and resources disbursed to schools and other institutions, which was part of reason the meeting was convened ahead of the reopening of schools.

“Such funds are public funds, like school fees subsidies and other funds. These funds must be used for their intended purposes,” said Mr. Blake. “We have come to caution you all as Principals representing various schools in the two districts. We are against illegal charges and extortion of monies from parents and pupils.”

The government, through the Ministry of Education, has announced that it would pay free tuition for pupils in public schools for two years, as well as provide learning materials for schools. As a result, parents are not required to pay fees for their children and wards, although it is not clear whether composite school charges are part of the waiver.

Deputy Director of Education in Kenema district, Claudius Wilson, said the meeting was timely and significant as it comes ahead of the reopening of schools, and more than ten months after educational institutions were closed by government as part of measures to contain and eradicate the Ebola virus.

“As we are all determined to embark on this venture after the Ebola strike which compelled us to close all schools across the country, the Ministry of Education and the Principals of schools should work together in ensuring that appropriate measures are put in place for convenient, safe and effective learning with special reference to Ebola prevention and control,” he said.

Kailahun and Kenema districts were initially the epicenters of the virus, following the outbreak in the former where the index case was reported. Both districts recorded more than a 1,000 cases. Statistics on the number of deaths caused by Ebola in both districts are difficult, although conservative figures indicate that hundreds died especially in the first six months of the outbreak.

However, both districts have gone beyond 42 days of zero new cases, and have been declared “Ebola-free”, with Kailahun going for more than 100 days.