-Avers Information Minister
May 10, 2018 By Emmanuel Okyne
Minister of Information and Communication, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, has averred that the dispensation of President Julius Maada Bio would not tolerate the imposition of any extra charges in schools across the country.
President Bio had, in his New Direction manifesto, promised free primary and secondary education and free tuition for students offering sciences in colleges and other tertiary institutions.
However, many have observed that extra charges in schools would have the potential to undermine the promised free education.
Speaking last week on Voice of the Handicap 96.2 Radio, Minister Swaray said that stringent measures would be put in place to tackle the menace in schools, adding that defaulters would face appropriate penalties.
He said teachers are guided by the Code of the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology Act of 2004.
He reiterated that pupils would be provide with tuition fees, two uniforms, shoes and stationery, adding that they would not allow any school authority to undermine their flagship programme as voters voted for the new admnistration on the promise of providing free education.
He said the president thought it fit to appoint Alpha Timbo Minister of Primary and Secondary Education because the latter has a wealth of experience in the educational sector and was once a trade unionist.
Swaray noted that President Bio wants to achieve his promise on education, thus he deemed it prudent to separate tertiary education from secondary and primary so that the two ministers could properly concentrate on delivering the president’s free education policy.
Meanwhile, some parents who have been plagued by the issue of extra-charges in schools have welcomed the proposed move by the government to get rid of the payment of extra-charges in schools.
One of the parents interviewed by this medium, Salamatu Koroma, expressed that she would be happy to see the new government eradicate all forms of extra charges in schools across the country.
“I have a child in secondary school and when he passed the Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE), I paid over a million Leones for him to enter senior school even though he scored an aggregate of 16,” she said.
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A pupil of the Prince of Wales School who preferred anonymity said he was pleased with the pronouncement as some teachers always pester them to purchase pamphlets and attend extra lesson instead of teach them during school hours.
On his part, Executive Director of Heal Sierra Leone, Joseph Sannoh, noted that for the new government to achieve its goal of free education, it must conduct effective monitoring of schools, comprising a consortium of media and civil society groups.