Consistent with its proactive approach in the fight against corruption, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) remains resolute to inspire public sector institutions to inculcate anti-corruption values with the aim of improving service delivery. It is in this regard that the North-East Region Office of the ACC in Makeni engaged staff of the Teaching Service Commission (TSC), Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), Principals, Head teachers and School Management Committees’ members in Magburaka and its environs. This engagement, which was held on Thursday 31st October 2019, witnessed the signing of Integrity Pledge by principals and head teachers which they will in turn ensure that teachers in their respective schools sign.
In her statement to education stakeholders at the Conference Hall of the Tonkolili District Council, Magburaka, ACC Regional Manager North-East Mariama Navo underscored the significance of the engagement and described it as a unique process intended to restore integrity in the school environment. Miss Navo disclosed that though the concept of integrity pledge for school administrators is a novelty, its content is within the remit of their work. The Manager commended the participants especially principals and head teachers for signing the integrity pledge which marked a spectacular display of their commitment to transform education. She emphasized that in fighting a dreadful disease like corruption, no contribution is small because every effort counts. Miss Navo added that the signing of the document was just the start of the process but its implementation was very crucial.
The Manager called on principals and head teachers to promote the Free Quality Education with honour and respect; ensure discipline and punctuality were maintained at all times; ensure that all forms of sexual harassment and exploitation of girls were eradicated; commit to elimanate all forms of bribery and extortion in the school system; and ensure prudent utilization of school fee subsidies.
ACC Public Education Officer Abdulai Saccoh highlighted the overwhelming benefits of education to the nation's development agenda and acknowledged the invaluable contribution of school authorities in shaping and nurturing pupils. He emphasized that the actions of principals and head teachers determine the future of this country and encouraged them to fight against all forms of corrupt practices, especially examination malpractices, bribery and misuse of public revenue and property.
Mr. Saccoh added that as a nation the focus now should be to support every process that was geared towards reengineering the nation to prosperity. The Public Education Officer urged MBSSE to strengthen and widen its monitoring exercise of schools and ensure that prompt corrective measures were taken. He said principals and head teachers needed to intensify their supervision of teachers and take appropriate action against defaulters; and further called on the TSC to adhere to the due process in recruiting teachers.
Public Education Officer Abdul Karim Bangura earlier explained the purpose of the meeting, noting that it was not only meant to engage them on a frank discourse but also to strengthen the already existing partnership between the Commission and the education authorities. Mr. Bangura assured his audience of ACC's unwavering commitment to continue to set up the necessary structures required to build a better society. He lauded teachers who pride themselves in upholding integrity and encouraged those on the other side to copy the good examples of their colleagues.
The Deputy Director, Teaching Service Commission, Tonkolili District, Victor Kamara advised principals and head teachers not to tolerate any form of corrupt practices in schools, as such acts could leave an indelible imprint in the minds of pupils to believe that corruption is the way to get things done. "When you want to destroy a nation do not use weapons, just use the teachers because they would collapse a whole system gradually," the Deputy Director averred.
The meeting was chaired by the Inspector of Schools, MBSSE, Philip A. Kabia and statements were also made by the Chairman Conference of Principals, and the Head of the Head Teachers Council in the District.
The signing of the Integrity Pledge by principals and head teachers, promising that every teacher in their respective schools would also sign the undertaking formed the high point of the engagement.