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Saturday, July 2, 2022

New Education policy may force rural schools to shut doors

Francis Ndanema in Moyamba

Untrained and unqualified teachers in remote areas of Sierra Leone have threatened to quit the classroom if the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology fails to reverse its decision to employ only trained and qualified teachers.

According to the aggrieved teachers, many of whom have taught for two to three years without receiving salaries, albeit hopeful that the ministry will verify their service, their hope was waning.

“I can make lots of money if I am engaged in private business. I only came to assist the school since there was only one teacher and the children need to be educated. Though I am an untrained and unqualified teacher, I can teach from class one to five effectively because I got some credits in my O’ Levels,” one of the teachers told our reporter.

He added: “If I am employed, I will be teaching whiles I will be doing my teachers’ certificate so that I can equip myself better. If the Ministry said they would not employ me, I will leave the school and let the head teacher teach all the pupils from class one to six,” he further threatened.

Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Minkalu Bah, has been dogged in his refusal to approve teachers, many of whom have taught for many years without being paid. He has emphasised qualification, but few trained and qualified teachers are willing and ready to teach in remote parts of the country, where amenities are non-existent and the ministry does not give special incentives to teachers.

Analysts say if government maintains its stance that only trained and qualified teachers will be employed, many schools in remote villages will close down, as 85% of teachers in those areas are untrained and unqualified.

Most primary schools in remote areas of Sierra Leone have either two or three teachers, with a good number being untrained and unqualified, including head teachers. The current policy, if not modified to suit rural communities, would have a negative impact on education in rural Sierra Leone, forcing some schools to close down and thousands of children quitting school altogether, observed a rural sociologist.

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