Concord Times (Freetown)

21 September 2012

Sierra Leone: SlLTU, NGOs Discuss Education Challenges

The Sierra Leone Teachers' Union SLTU, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education, Science and Technology and some non-governmental organizations, has ended a two-day stakeholders conference on the theme: 'The Role of 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.'

The conference which was held at the Atlantic Hall, National Stadium in Freetown, brought together key stakeholders who discussed at length the many challenges facing the educational sector and how best to address them.

SLTU Acting Secretary General, Morris Conteh, stated that the falling standard of education in the country can be traced as far back as the 80s and the 11-year civil war added to it as much of the qualified personnel in the education sector were exported.

"The war devastated the entire education system and rebuilding it after the war has been a herculean task for the government and other education stakeholders including our union. Let me acknowledge generally that much has happened to the education sector but more needs to be done," he said.

He opined that the 2010 Prof. Gbamanja Commission of Inquiry which looked into the poor performances 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, unconducive learning environment, widespread indiscipline in schools and ineffective pedagogy.

Deputy Minister of Education II, Dr. Lansana Nyallay, said his ministry, through the government, has improved working relationship with the teachers' union and other education stakeholders.

"Because the government places lots of emphases on education development, we have rehabilitated formal, technical and vocational education and training schools all over the country, improved teaching and learning environment and improved tertiary institutions, among others. We know that irrespective of the strides we have made so far, there are few challenges that require collective actions," he said.

Dr. Nyallay added that even though teachers are expected to be more creative and imaginative in order to do the best, a teacher without the appropriate teaching and learning materials will be less capacitated.

Representatives from the different NGOs in the country pledged their full support to improve the standard of education in the country.

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