March 11, 2021
By: Mustapha Sheriff
Section 384 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) recommend that primary school education be compulsory for all children. It should be an offence not to send children to primary school. This is an imperative recommendation.
385. “The Commission notes that primary school education is supposedly made available free of charge to all children. The Commission recommends that no “hidden charges” or “chalk fees” be levied against parents. Free primary school education must mean free in every sense of the word. The Government should work towards the fulfilment of this recommendation.”
But to get such conducive learning environment is still a challenge in one of the community schools in Kenema district. The Head Teacher of the Al-Kudus Islamic Primary School, Serabu, Small Bo Chiefdom, Kenema District, Francis Lahai Swaray has said that the conditions of the school are not encouraging and that the learning atmosphere is greatly affected as a result of such occurrences.
He said that the raining season of each year always brings about more destruction for the school, adding that heavy winds and storms always tend to leave the school in a deplorable condition. Mr. Swaray noted that the school was voluntarily built by the community some 25 five years ago, adding that the school was among the last batched of approved schools under the New Direction Government. The School has recently received subsidy for the 2019/2020 academic year, but the Head teachercomplained that such was not enough to rehabilitate things and to improve the school’s conditions.
“We are still hoping that government and humanitarian organizations would come to our aid and on time because we have nowhere to host our pupils when schools fully reopenin September,’’ he said.
The School’s Management Committee Chairman, Mr. Salia, said that the pupils who sat to the National Primary School Examination were using his house as classrooms in preparation for their examination.
“Everyone at Serabu sees and experiences the poor maintenance structure of the school,” Salia said, adding that, the damaged infrastructure facilities affect students’ morale.
Some parents expressed further concerns about the problem, saying that there weren’t enough desks to make learning conducive for the pupils.
In an interview with the Kenema District Council Chairman, Mohamed O. Level Sesay, he said that the school’s Head Teacher and management could not keep the school fees’ subsidy without addressing the problem. “A healthy learning environment is not a luxury, but a necessity,” he said, “and I am desperately asking that they take a priority on all budget plans.”
He said that District Council has been working to rectify some of the problems highlighted and that his council will further engage the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education and other authorities concerned for them to visit and inspect and improve on the conditions of the school.
The School Management is urgently calling on the Government of Sierra Leone and donor partners to rescue them in rehabilitating the Al-Kudus Islamic Primary School Serabu, Small Bo Chiefdom Kenema District.
The right to education is one that should be accessed by all and sundry in society.
Section 386 of the (TRC) recommendation recommends that the Government should work towards the creation of incentives to encourage children of school going age to attend school.
This article is produced with support from MRCG through the ATJLF project on: “Engaging the media to change the narrative on Transitional Justice (TJ) issues in Sierra Leone”.