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Students of Koinadugu District, especially the female group, who albeit structures in place are denied the opportunities that could empower them to be retain in the country’s challenging 6-3-3-4 system were on Tuesday 29th May 2012 liberated by the Executives of the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change (ABC) Secretariat who are in that part of the country to sensitize its inhabitants on the repercussions of the manifestation of negative attitudes and behaviours. (Photo: Cross Section of the students at Loma Secondary School)
The students who in spite of their desire to be educated as their contemporaries in other districts are under grave family, cultural and religious pressures to enter early marriages and inferior professions in seemingly their families greed to acquire wealth were given potent awareness by the ABC Secretariat to not only rebel against these retrogressive happenings, but to also take bold steps in prioritizing their education among other distracting pursuits.
Among the numerous schools in the region, students of the Yogomaia Junior Secondary, Loma Secondary, Ahmadyya Secondary and Kabala Secondary Schools were the lucky beneficiaries of the district level sensitization of educational institutions by the ABC Secretariat in Sierra Leone.
Despite being an internal promotional examination week that is characterized by time constrain, the Koinadugu students and their respectively school administration sacrificed to be part of the sensitization process. At their level the ABC Secretariat’s lectures concentrated how the present unimpressive educational standards could be improved by the practice of positive attitudes and behaviours within the formal learning sector. This the Secretariats main actors said is in a bid to pave way for the implementation and making the Professor Gbamajah Report on Education a success story.
It could be remembered that upon assumption of power in September 2007 President Ernest Bai Koroma instituted the Professor Gbamajah Commission to unearth the possible causes of the drop in academic performance of students and forward feasible recommendations that could aid to address the malaise. And the causes the Commission Report highlighted hinged on the pervasiveness of negative attitudes and behaviours among the education actors; the Ministry of Education, School Authorities, Parents and Students as well. Thus making it imperative on the ABC Secretariat, which was hatched by President Koroma in 2008 as a launching pad for his enviable ‘Agenda for Posterity’, to aim at engaging these actors on this sensitive issue of negative attitudes and manners so as to transform them to positive ones.
Addressing the students and school administrators at their respective school compounds the Executive Director of ABC Secretariat, Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas was quick to describe the findings of the Professor Gbamajah Commission as a laudable and gospel truth that should be revered and implemented if Sierra Leoneans are actually committed to par in academic standards with other sister West African countries with which they are sharing the same 6-3-3-4 educational system. He called on the students to understand that the motive of attending schools is to attain qualifications that would earn them dignified and payable employments in the future and implored them to take their junior and senior secondary school educations as the foundation for further learning. Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas informed the students about the competitive nature of the modern job market and encouraged them to be confident, hardworking, law abiding, and focused.
He warned the students to desist from premature sex, waste of time, drug addiction, violence, truancy, laggardness, profane dressings, subduing to peer-group influences, and excessive consumption of entertainment stuffs do not enhance their learning processes.
Speaking further he enticed the students to inculcate and imbibe positive ways of doing things not only during school hours, but equally when in their communities. Learning Dr. Thomas said is a continuous process that requires environments that are conducive and urged the students to reject settings that are not favorable for boosting their performances.
He therefore denounced family settings that suppress female students into early marriage and other forms of trade and cultural activities within Koinadugu District that abhor the retention of girls in schools and further called on elderly men of the district, especially teachers, from sexually harassing and assaulting school going girls. In a world where women are no longer considered as burden or weaker sex, but rather the engines for speedy development, Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas made a clarion call on parents to stop depriving girls of education. He ended by sending a stern warning to all those concern that the destruction of Sierra Leone’s once reputable educational performance will not only be blemishing the country’s image, but making its citizens less competitive to foreign applicants for internal employments, more so within the booming mining sector, when the need arises.
In her succinct but well grasped sensitization, the National Coordinator and Second-in-Command of ABC Secretariat, Madam Nanette Thomas buttressed Dr. Ivan Ajibola Thomas’ concern over the forcing of female students into unprepared marriages. She maintained that until this awful practice is stopped within the Koinadugu District and other parts of Sierra Leone the country’s longed for socio-economic and political advancement will remain an unattainable desire. Against this backdrop she encouraged the girls to stand tough against the practice and maintain a view that in their teens they must be educated in order to be part and parcel of the state’s development.
She however cautioned the girls to be respectful to their respective parents and school authorities, since according to her the fight for their rights to education must be constructive and peaceful.
Madam Nanette Thomas informed the students to discard their odd habits and try hard to copy and nurture admirable ones in order to become responsible citizens in the future and encouraged them to make reading meaningful materials their main hobby. “Make your books your boyfriends”, she advised the girls and added “You should be confident to compete with your male classmates at all times.” She went on to enthuse the students to start and keep exploiting library facilities which she assured will opportune them to interesting and educative materials. Madam Thomas warned the students against procrastination on the basis that learning is a continual process and further advised them from having phobia for certain subjects like Mathematics, English and the Sciences.
On the roles of teachers towards the academic performances of students she called on former unavoidably serve as role- models for the latter. She called on the teachers to stop blaming their negligence to provide the students correct tuitions on their claimed poor conditions of service. The dodging of contractual hours for extra lessons, an issue bemoaning education within the Koinadugu District, she pointed out defies the recommendations of the Professor Gbamajah Report.
Madam Thomas took her time to convince the Principals of the respective schools to see that their teachers teach according to their specified syllabuses, prepare Scheme of Works and Lesson Notes as recommended from the findings of the Professor Gbamajah Commission.
She challenged that if the school administrations, parents/financiers and students drop their negative attitudes and behaviours Sierra Leone will regain its laurel of being the Athens of West Africa.
In a move to advocate for the physical and mental wellbeing of the prone- to- contagious- diseases students, Madam Thomas urged the food sellers to be providing sanitary conditions that will arrest the contact and spread of dangerous germs. She pointed out that good health is necessary for the students since illness is not only deadly but also a cause for the wastage of income that could be used to buy learning gadgets. Concluding she maintained that selling contaminated and substandard consumables is a common negative attitude and behaviour which the school authorities should urgently try to address and called on the students to stop consuming substances that are liable to depreciate their health.
The Program Manager of ABC Secretariat, Mr. Ishmael Cole on several instances discarded claims that the wide spread of poverty among homes is a major cause of the deplorable way students, mainly girls, are dropping out from schools within Koinadugu District. He encouraged the parents, teachers and students to confront the debacles of poverty to turn Koinadugu a region of more literate indigenes. This he assured will transform its community into a progressive one.
On his part the Secretariat’s Northern Region Coordinator, Daniel Sara Turay called on the parents and teachers to be more courageous, understanding and patience with the current economic recovery in sending and retaining their children to schools. According to him educating their children is the best saving they can ever make than forcing them into early marriages.
Making a statement the Principal of Loma Secondary School, Mr. Idrissa Deen Jalloh thanked the ABC Secretariat for reaching out to them and promised that they will use the sensitization in seeing that education for children within the region becomes valued.
In her Vote of Thanks the Head Girl of Yogomaia Secondary School, Hajaratu Mansaray commended the ABC Secretariat executives for liberating them from the traditional chains of forceful marriage. And promised on behalf of other students, more especially her companion female students that they will try to start putting up positive attitudes and behaviours so that they can become potently educated to patriotically serve their motherland, Sierra Leone.
By Momoja Lappia
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