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In a bid to address the plights faced by education in this country, the Sierra Lone Teachers Union (SLTU) a trade union organization aimed to promote the social, economic and professional interests of its members and for the development of education and the Sierra Leone society in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science (MEST) and Technology, United Nations Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF) PLAN Sierra Leone, Save the Children UK, Action Aid International –Sierra Leone , IBIS, International Rescue Committee and Education for All (EFASL ) has commenced a two day National Education Stakeholders Conference at the Atlantic Hall, National Stadium on the themes: The Role Teachers’ Union in Sustaining Peace and Development in the Wake of a Global Economic Crisis and Effective School Management: A requirement for improved teacher morale and learning outcomes. (Photo: Deputy Minister (Two) Dr. Nyalley making a statement )
In his statement, the Acting Secretary General of the Sierra Leone Teachers’ Union Moris Conteh revealed that the plight of the falling standard of education in the country can be traced far back in 980s. Allude to an education review; Mr. Conteh said that there are several factors for the decline including the eleven yeas civil war that exported much of the qualified personnel from the education system. He stressed that the war devastated the entire education system and rebuilding system in post-war has been herculean task for the government and other education stakeholders including his union.
Attached to this he maintained, are other reasons such as the declining economy and the unwillingness of successive governments to adequately finance education which rendered teachers in the school system to be poorly paid.
The Acting Secretary General acknowledged to the fact that much has happened to the education sector in the country and in the mist of these, there are some challenges some of which are so chronic to an extent that standards are now being compromised.
With frustration, he revealed that the 2010 Professor Gbamanja Commission of Inquiry into the poor performance of pupils in the 2008 Basic Education Certificate Examination (BECE) and West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) brought out several problems including; lack of or inadequate training of teachers, inappropriate teaching and learning resources, low motivation, inefficient school management and administration, corruption, un-conducive leaning environment, widespread indiscipline in schools, ineffective pedagogy.
“Public examinations conducted by the West African Examination Council which determines progress of the learners from primary to secondary and then to the university is today bedeviled by problems of inadequate and untimely funding, cooption, rampant exams malpractice, buying of grades etc”. He expressed in a discouraging manner.
He told the august gathering that the collaborative conference is held on this hall mark aimed to explore ways of improving the quality of the teachers in particulars and the education system as a whole in relation to our present-day realities.
In his courtesy statement, the deputy Minister of Education (two) Dr. Lansana Nylelley said that his ministry through the government has improved and wonderful working relations with the Sierra Leone Teachers’ Union and other education stakeholders. “Because of the love my government has for education development, we have much news and have rehabilitated formal, technical and vocational education and training schools all over the country, improved teaching and learning environment, improved tertiary institutions, payment of public examinations fees, 70% grant-in-aid for students etc”. The academic doctor outlined.
Irrespective of strives made so far by our government, there are few challenges that required collective actions among which are: ability, knowledge, skills and competency. He said that knowledge and information are power. Create the environment for teachers to realize their highest academic and skills potentials. The more trained and qualified a teacher is, the more competent he or she is likely to be and the more the country stands to benefit.
Dr. Nylelley said that even though we may expect our teachers to be more creative and imaginative in order to do the best they can with the little they have, yet, a teacher without the appropriate teaching and learning materials will be less capacitated. He further told the august gathering that a teacher with poor moral standard, one who lacks a dive and commitment to succeed is more likely to poorly influence the leaners he or she interacts with. This according to him will translate defect into a learning process. “These challenges we can overcome and the sky cannot even be our limit if only we work to gather”. He told education partners.
Education International representative Emmanuel Fatoma, said that his organization has a membership of 165 countries with 30 million teachers around the globe. He stressed that education issues are too serious to be left in the hands of politicians. He beseeched all that if we want to achieve the Agenda for Prosperity, we must build it root on improved and quality education.
In his opening remarks, the Chairman who doubles as the Chief Education of the Ministry of Education Mr. Mohamed Sallue Kamara appreciates all those who in devise ways participate in improving education and appreciating the union for their countless contributions towards achieving quality education.
Representatives from NGOs also pledged their supports to improve education in the country.
By A. R. Bedor
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