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Who’s responsible for the decline of education in Sierra Leone?

Who’s responsible for the decline of education in Sierra Leone?

Who’s responsible for the decline in education in Sierra Leone? The daring blame-game question comes from nine year-old Solomon Lewis of the St. Augustine Services Primary School in Gondama Barracks, which houses the 5th Infant Brigade of the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces.  (Photo: Orphan Jenneh Mariga, a Class VI pupil of the Ansarul Islamic Primary School, now has a mother in AWOL Vice Chairperson Yabome Lansana)

The Class III pupil didn’t wait for the diverse answers that would have come from the packed-full hall but instead probed further: “Is it the government? Is it the teachers? Is it the parents? Is it the pupils or students?”

There could have been no appropriate way to raise the curtain on the commemoration of the Day of the African Child 2013, after formal opening courtesies, during this year’s AWOL annual Feeding and Awards Programme for School Children at the Brigade Battle Center, Gondama Barracks, Tikonko Chiefdom, Bo District, on Sunday 16th June 2013.

As usual, under their own theme: ‘All Pekin for Go Skul’, AWOL fed and distributed learning materials to more than 1, 500 pupils from five primary schools in the chiefdom. The schools include St. Augustine Services Primary School, Sierra Leone United Islamic Mission Primary School (SLUIM), Every Nation Academy Primary School (ENAPS), Ansarul Islamic Primary School and Methodist Primary School- Gelehun. The four best performing pupils from Class I to VI in each school received a back-pack containing learning materials and were awarded a year’s scholarship of school fees.

Furthermore, AWOL donated 200 bags of cements, one ton iron rods and five bundles of zinc for the re-construction of the St. Augustine Services Primary School.

Announcing the donation, AWOL Vice Chairperson, Yambome Lansana, said they were touched when they learnt that the St. Augustine school mud structure had collapsed and housed in the military’s mosque.

She said the donation came from the pockets of AWOL members and urged the authorities to use the materials for the intended purpose.

Speaking earlier, the Chairman for the AWOL June 16th Committee, also Financial Secretary of the organization, Abdul Kabba Kargbo, said their choice of Gondama to host this year’s June 16 programme is in line with their philosophy of reaching out to deprived and neglected communities. He said, apart from that, Gondama played a motherly role in hosting refugees from Liberia and internally displaced persons during the warring years in both countries.

The Deputy Godfather of AWOL, Kweku M.S. Lisk, also reiterated that there is no regret in their choice of Gondama.

“There’s work to be done here (Gondama) by Government. However, you must know that government has loads on its table but limited resources. So we are here to complement government’s effort in the area of developing young people through education,” said Lisk, while he also informed them that AWOL is non-political.

Lisk urged parents and guardians to give their children the opportunity they did not have. He appealed to them to be concerned about their education.

“Education is the key,” said Lisk. “It’s the only universal thing, which when you have it you can use anywhere in the world.”

AWOL Chairman, Amb. Anthony Navo Jnr, who was unavoidably absent in Gondama due to an emergency call to duty out of the country, said on the eve of the programme that the annual June 16th programme is the organisation’s own contribution to the development of education in the country. He said through quality education, most bad influences affecting teenagers today will be avoided.

“With the right education, our children will not indulge in drug abuse, violence, teenage pregnancies, unsafe sex and the like; and they will grow up to become responsible citizens capable of assuming leadership roles in the various endeavours they will find themselves tomorrow,” he said.

Speaking to AYV via phone during the programme, Amb Navo said he would ensure that the St. Augustine Services Primary School is rebuilt into a standard primary school.

Also speaking at the ceremony are the Provincial Secretary Bo, Jacob Quee; the Chief of Staff of the 5th Infant Brigade at Gondama Barracks, Major Issa Bangura; Councillor Haja Aminata Kebbay of Ward 247 Jagbla II; and the AIG Southern Region, David Sesay.

Each school performed a skit surrounding the theme of the programme, bringing out issues of teenage pregnancy, child labour, extortion by school authorities and more.

At the end of the St. Augustine Services Primary School performance, Lewis asked the audience to judge for themselves regarding who’s responsible for the decline of education in the country.

By Ahmed Sahid Nasralla (De Monk)

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