March 30, 2016 By Joseph S. Margai
Twenty-five years ago this month war broke out in Sierra Leone, ostensibly to challenge a one-party dictatorship that had brought the country on its knees. Fourteen years after that macabre war ended, the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology is still grappling to roll out quality education to children, especially those in rural areas.
The Ansarul Islamic Primary School at Foya Wulleh village is one such school which is currently facing serious challenges with learning environment where children access education.
Foya Wulleh village is in Kori chiefdom, Moyamba district, southern Sierra Leone. The only primary school is the Ansarul Islamic Primary, which is in bad shape. The school serves five surrounding villages and has a population of 216 pupils – from classes one to six, with six teachers, three of whom are on the government payment voucher while the rest are not.
Ibrahim Jalloh, head teacher, says the school has been in existence for over ten years now. He adds that the structure of the school was far better than its current decrepit state, before it was engulfed by wildfire from the bush few years ago.
“Currently as I speak, we are using three make-shift structures with grass roof because we do not have money to buy cement and corrugated iron zinc to construct a modern structure. There is not enough accommodation for the pupils, not to mention for the teachers,” he explains.
Also, he says there are no toilet and water facility for pupils and teachers alike. In fact, he adds, there is no bore hole in the entire village and that the pupils fetch water from a nearby stream, which dries up during the dry season.
Mr. Jalloh discloses that his school got 100 percent success in the past National Primary School Examination (NPSE). He however expresses concern about the dilapidated state of the school, which could adversely affect smooth leaning once the rainy season commences in May.
He calls on donors, non-governmental organisations and well-meaning Sierra Leoneans to support them construct a new school and provide furniture.
Asked if he hopes to achieve quality education in his village, the head teacher says that is his hope, but the absence of direly needed facilities like toilet, bore hole, modern building, and furniture, among others, will undermine that hope.
According to Educate a Child, a global initiative to educate children, launched by Her Royal Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser of Qatar, quality education requires a systematic approach that supports effective learning.
The aid agency further states that the environment influences learning in many ways, and that there must be adequate hygiene and sanitation facilities accessible to all, and if possible, health and nutrition services in the vicinity.