The North-West Regional Office of the Anti-Corruption Commission on the 26th and 27th February 2020 educated and sensitized staff and pupils of secondary schools in Kambia.
These engagements dubbed Meet the Schools Campaign which is part of the Commission’s public education drive was undertaken to sensitize the pupils and staff on corruption and to solicit their support. The Meet the Schools Campaign was done at the Kolenten and Sierra Leone Islamic Federation Secondary schools respectively.
Addressing pupils and staff on the importance of education, the Public Education Officer Mohamed Thullah said the development of any nation is predicated on the quality and standard of education that will consequently be reflective on the transformation and growth of that nation. He stated that the present decline of the country’s educational system was as a result of the sustained presence of corruption in the sector. He expressed ACC's concern and commitment to reversing the trend and changing the narrative aimed at improving the education sector to an admirable status.
The Public Education Officer highlighted various corrupt practices that have plagued the educational sector among other things including illegal admission, falsification of report cards, payment for assignment or test, absenteeism, sex for grades, payment for extra classes, double dipping etc. He went on to state that any charge that was not sanctioned by the education policy is illegal and encouraged school administrators to devise mechanisms to institute discipline in schools and work towards enhancing best practices in discharging their functions.
The ACC team headed by the Regional Manager Al-Hassan Sesay also held meetings with the principal and staff of both schools at the respective engagements. He informed them about the proximity of the ACC as it now has a regional office located in Port Loko City. He cautioned them to be mindful of the ACC Act of 2008 as Amended in 2019, and not to be in conflict with the law in the discharge of their duties.
Explaining related corruption offences to staff, the Regional Head warned school authorities to desist from illegal charges and extortion practices that are not sanctioned by the Education Policy and the ACC laws. “There is no law that makes it acceptable for school authorities to ask for payment for late fees, absenteeism, report cards, assignment etc. There should be disciplinary and administrative measures put in place with no financial attachment to discourage these practices. This is not acceptable,” he pinpointed.
Manager Sesay also brought to their notice provisions in the 2019 Amendment Act like the asset declaration regime, increase in fines and jail terms, trial in absentia, cancellation of contracts etc. The Regional Manager in his closing remarks called on the school administrators to establish School Integrity Clubs and to provide the needed support to the teacher coordinators in the schools. He pointed out that the thrust of these clubs was to catch the pupils young, teach them about the values of integrity, change their mindset and behavior about the fight against corruption so that they will in turn help in changing the characters of other pupils adding that the clubs will be officially launched in subsequent engagements. "These clubs are in no way establish to police the schools' administrations but to serve as ambassadors in curbing corrupt practices in schools," he clarified.
The Principal of Sierra Leone Islamic Federation Secondary School, Saidu Pedro Kamara said he will provide the leadership and support to the fight against corruption in his school and expressed delight over the establishment of an Integrity Club in the school. He said corrupt practices in schools have contributed to the decline of the standard of education in the country and called on his staff to maintain high standards of integrity in the performance of their duties.
In the same vein, the Vice Principal of Kolenten Secondary School, Abdul Salam Bangura thanked the ACC team and registered his commitment to instituting measures to curb corrupt practices in the school. He also welcomed the idea of establishing integrity club in the school. Giving the vote of thanks, Head Girl of the Sierra Leone Islamic Federation Secondary School, Isata Kamara expressed appreciation to the ACC for coming to their school and sensitizing them on their work and the dangers of corruption.