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COMMENTS & OPINIONS  

Is this Another Bogus Task Force for Education?
By Asks Moi Tehun
Oct 14, 2011, 17:00
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The Education Task Force set up by the Government in June 2011 to monitor the implementation of the Government White Paper on Education 2010 is appearing to be another white elephant projects. But education is not the type of sector any government should toy with because this sector, everyone knows, has been consistently and progressively going down the drain time immemorial. This Task Force should have gone into full gear by now to follow up with whether junior and senior secondary schools, including private schools countrywide, were complying with the recommendations of the Government White Paper.  It is even sad to know that copies of the Gbamanja Commission Report itself are yet to be disseminated to various schools nationwide. If schools in Freetown were yet to access the Report and the White Paper, one wonders when provincial schools will access theirs. And until this Task Force gets to ensuring that each school in the country is availed a copy of the Government White Paper, there is nothing that the Committee shall go to monitor because its clients (educational institutions) were yet to familiarise themselves with the contents of the recommendations of the White Paper. In all fairness to the Education White Paper 2010, the recommendations of that document are superb and excellent. If only the Task Force could act fast to ensure the enforcement of those recommendations, there is no doubt that the educational misfortune that has plagued this nation for the past several decades, will be turned around.

 

However, from indications, it is disheartening to learn that the much heralded Task Force that has been in the news recently has in fact achieved nothing so far since its inception. Can the Minister of Education tell us what this Task Force has achieved since it was commissioned by H.E. the President? Or is this an APCs banya-fakiepropaganda tactics to fool Sierra Leoneans into believing that this government is serious about returning this country to its once enviable position of being the Athens of West Africa?

The Government White Paper contains 36 brilliant recommendations that are all geared toward sanitising the educational system in this country. None of these recommendations, it appears, have been implemented for only God knows why. The first recommendation of the White Paper reads thus: Modification of the 6-3-3-4 System of Education to include a compulsory early child component and extension by one year of the duration of senior secondary school. The system now becomes the 6-3-4-4.


When is this system coming into force? Even the educational institutions affected are yet to know when! It is not an issue of having beautiful plans but the practical steps you take to achieve those plans are the ones that matter most. The Task Force, if it could be recalled, has only made a one-off television appearance to sensitise the public about its activities. Since then, it has effectively gone underground. What sort of Task Force is this? Is this a white-wash propaganda project?

 

Another of the recommendations that has left school administrators even more confused is A 8, which reads: Phasing out the Two Shift System. This recommendation is made with the proviso that additional classrooms will be built to accommodate all pupils in one shift. Meanwhile schools should create more streams to accommodate pupils. Pupils shall attend school from 8:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. daily with a 45 minutes lunch break. Regular and punctual school attendance by teachers and pupils shall be enforced.

 

Putting this particular recommendation under the microscope, the Commission needs to tell Sierra Leoneans when the one shift system, which makes absolute sense, is coming into force? Parents are eager to know when the Two Shift System is phasing out. What is bringing the delay? Why cant schools with the capacity to go One-Shift be allowed to do so now and those without capacity to follow suit later? Is this government in any way serious about implementing to the letter what has been approved in the White Paper? What is the Task Force doing currently? Why isnt the Task Force informing the nation about practical progress it has made so far?

 

There is every reason to believe that President Koroma wants to create an impact in the educational sector by returning Sierra Leone to its once glorious past of being the Athens of West Africa, but if those given the task to bring this dream to pass are not up to the task, then its high time such a team is dissolved and another, comprising very patriotic Sierra Leoneans, constituted to bring back sanity to our educational system in this country.

 

Otherwise, so many people will perceive the much heralded Task Force on Education as just another cosmetic and bogus outfit. Wake-up APC! Wake up! Lonta!


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