September 21, 2015 By Victoria Saffa
The Western Area Budget Education and Advocacy Network (WABEAN) last Thursday, 17 September held a round-table dialogue at the Harry Yanseneh Memorial Hall of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists in Freetown.
The round-table was geared towards eliciting information from schools authorities.
The objective of the session was to enhance access to quality basic services by holding government to account, strengthen the relationship between communities and duty-bearers, and to deepen transparency and accountability within communities and school management systems.
Speaking at the event, Research Coordinator Abdulrahman Sesay said information was power as without information communities would lack empowerment to hold authorities to account.
“Today’s programme is to inform school management committees about their roles and responsibilities but to also demand transparency and accountability through information sharing,” said Sesay, adding that the government now provides school fees subsidies and that the schools ought to display that information for public consumption. “These are important information that schools need to provide as these are the basis for transparency and accountability,” he said.
Sesay said their role as civil society is to advocate and demand that government make available adequate resources to develop schools. But he added that schools need to display information on notice boards as such was not happening at most schools.
“This is the essence of this event and the more reason why we are all here today to discuss and chart the way forward,” he said.
Augustine Kambo from Education for All Coalition said earlier that schools have a lot of information they should share with the public or communities in which they are located. He alleged that although government was providing subsidies to schools, authorities do not use them for the intended purpose.
“This is among the frustrations from the public; but another thing that is affecting schools has to do with the constitution of school management committees (SMCs). Most SMCs are handpicked by either head teachers or proprietors,” he said.
However, head teacher of the Sierra Leone Muslim Brotherhood Primary School at Portee in the east of the city, one Mr. Lamin, said his school provides ample information to the public as well as SMC members.
He conceded that school subsidies are provided by the government but they are sometimes remitted very late in the term.
He thanked WABEAN for bringing SMCs and schools authorities together so that they each could understand what their respective roles are and how communities would engage the school for the development of the children.