Sierra Leone: ACC Resumes Outreach With Schools in Kono

With schools reopening for the 2020-2021 academic year, the Public Education and Outreach unit of the Anti-Corruption Commission office in Kono district has begun one of its major outreach programs - Meet-the-School campaign. The unit on 13th October 2020 met with teachers and pupils of Dawa Islamic Secondary School at Koakoyima, Koidu City, to discuss plausible corruption issues in an effort to help pave the way for the delivery of the Free Quality Education project.

Speaking to the school, Public Education Officer (PEO) of the Commission's office in Kono, Aiah P.M. Sourie, said human capital development through education is significant to the overall socio-economic progress of the country. Every child should have access to education and the government's tireless efforts to deliver on its education vow is indeed commendable and, certainly, timely, he added. 'However, corruption within schools can eclipse the national education goal and pull the country steps backwards in terms of development,' the officer maintained.

According to the PEO bribery for grades and exam malpractices are commonplace in many learning institutions, something he said can directly hamper the process in bringing off the desired educational outcomes. Additionally, he spelled out that learners who only receive grades through bribery or cheating in exams 'can't show outcomes to justify any learnt concepts.' Therefore, he pleaded with the pupils and teachers to play their respective roles in order to make the school a worthy agent of socialization.

While the pupils were urged to earnestly do their schoolwork, the teachers were implored to pay close attention to delivering well-designed lesson notes and assessing the pupils as learning progresses with the view to stunt acts of corruption like payment for grades and exam malpractices. 'If grades are on sales, then there is no need to teach and evaluate learners,' Mr. Sourie said.

The ACC in partnership with key education stakeholders in the district had formed a task force that monitored public exams this year. Although the purpose of the task force was undoubtedly laudable, certain people allegedly connected with exam- malpractice cabals took umbrage at its work. The Commission was, in particular, described as an 'enemy' because of its stout stance against exam malpractices. But the Commission, in this engagement with Dawa Islamic Secondary School, clearly explained that it does not pick on teachers in any way or form.

PEO Sourie put it this way: 'The ACC acknowledges the importance of teachers in the education sector and has always considered them as partners in the fight against corruption. With respect to curbing cheating in exams, the Commission is only serving its purpose by law and does not intend to vilify any teacher or group of teachers. Together teachers and the Commission will succeed in monitoring credible public exams in the country.'

In his contribution, Public Education Officer, Edward Nathaniel Blake, stressed that productive future leaderships in the country is largely contingent on the quality of education 'we deliver to our children today.' He made known that the aftermaths in watering down education through corruption would be costlier than what is being injected into the sector, adding that 'we all should consider it as a national duty to fight a good fight against every form of corruption in schools and the country at large.'

One way to join the Commission in its just cause, according to PEO Blake, is to resist, reject, and report corruption at all times. On reporting corruption, he entreated both teachers and pupils of the school to call 515 on all mobile networks except Qcell to make anonymous complaints with the Committee on any corruption matters. Alternatively, he encouraged his audience to visit the ACC's 37 Masingbi Road office in Koidu City for the same purpose or make enquiries or research on the work of the Commission.

Blake further explained that the ACC is aware that it cannot win the campaign against corruption singlehandedly; for this reason the Commission forges partnerships with institutions, knowing full well that its mandate is intrinsically for the common good. 'No wonder the ACC is fondly referred to as the 'People's Commission.' 'Together we can defeat corruption.' he said assuredly, concluding.

Mr. Osman J. Gassama, principal of Dawa Islamic Secondary School, said the ACC would not have come at a more opportune time to engage his school on corruption-related matters. He said the anti-corruption message was more relevant as the academic year has just begun. 'I am grateful to the Commission,' he said.

Mr. Gassama affirmed that the involvement in monitoring the public exams in the district was timely, as it went a long way to check malpractice. 'My school will give every support within our reach to support the ACC win the fight against corruption.'

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