Parliamentary committee urges TSC to collaborate with WAEC

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October 15, 2018

By Jariatu S. Bangura

Members of the Parliamentary Committee on Basic and Higher Education have urged the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) to collaborate with officials of the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) in choosing specific textbooks that should be used by pupils preparing for public exams.

According to chairman of the committee, Hon. Dominic Tshombe, there are no specific textbooks prescribed to be used by pupils in senior secondary schools across the country.

“Sometimes if a child/pupil does not have it, she/he would be driven out of class by teachers. Also, many schools have different types of textbooks written by different authors,” he said.

Hon. Tshombe, a ruling party lawmaker, was speaking during a meeting conveyed by the committee and attended by TSC and WAEC officials. He said an analysis had been done by the committee which showed that 40% of public school teachers were untrained and unqualified, adding that there was need to look into the teachers-pupils ratio across the country.

He said committee members are desirous of being involved in proactive oversight work as they are knowledgeable about the challenges facing education, adding that quality couldn’t be achieved without support for teachers.

He said teachers in the rural areas are not being treated like their counterparts in urban areas, as most of them offer voluntary service.

He lamented the issue of distance education for teachers in the provinces, stating that “It will be difficult for them to pursue it because of the financial burden attached to it as most of the teachers in the province cannot afford one meal per day let alone going for distance learning. These teachers are willing to do the work and they should be given the opportunity as it will motivate them more to do the work. A lot has to be given to the pupils.”

Hon. Tshombe also observed students who want to graduate in English and Mathematics are seldom given scholarship.

“The field of Mathematics is not attractive and some of them [teachers] would rather teach other subjects that they think they are more comfortable with. Also, there is no quick job for grandaunts of both Mathematics and English as compared to that of IT, Agriculture, Economics, Literature and Geography,”  he said.

Also, Hon. Abdul Karim Koroma of the main opposition All People’s Congress, representing constituency 70, said the issue of pamphlets being sold to pupils must be looked into as it is one of the contributing factors that hampers pupils’ ability to read eloquently.

“Teachers fail to write notes on the board, rather they sell pamphlets to pupils. They will no longer take their books to read their notebooks because of the pamphlets. It is very serious and must be looked into,” he said.

On the issue of admission, Hon. Koroma said principals and heads of schools most times admit pupils who did acquire the required grades in public exams, noting that penalty should be levied against defaulters.

“A law has to be instituted for the admission of pupils that do not have the required grades to enter junior and secondary schools. A lot of pupils do not know the consequence that lies ahead of them in the future,” he aded.

Chairperson of the Teaching Service Commission, Madam Stanella Beckley said the commission was setup to manage the affairs of teachers in order to improve their professional status and economic wellbeing, noting that for equity to prevail there was need to have quality education.

She disclosed that the commission had carried out an assessment of the performance of pupils in primary and secondary schools in Mathematics and English Language, and that they found out that the performance was very abysmal.

She revealed that some teachers with Teacher’s Certificate were allowed to teach in secondary schools, while those with Higher Teacher’s Certificate were in the primary schools, hence there was need to look into the educational workforce.

Madam Beckley stated that they have also recognised that teachers have a bigger task ahead of them, adding that the commission does not have control over the condition of service for teachers but would collaborate with local councils, finance ministry, among others, to salvage the situation.

She promised to take action against principals who admit pupils without the actual qualification, and teachers who extort monies from parents or those who go to classrooms but do not teaching.

Meanwhile, she disclosed that the commission was currently working on the issue of teachers whose names are not on the payroll.