From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Education For Sale as Sierra Leone Producing 'Dandogos' (Dunces) in possession of Academic Qualifications
By Abdul Fonti
Jun 24, 2009, 18:50

Education is very vital for the existence of human beings and especially towards the development of any nation. It is evident that countries with higher percentages of literates continue to develop on a ceaseless basis, whilst those of lesser literates maintain the back seat of development.

Education is a right, which each and every human being on planet earth is entitled to. Under normal circumstances, one is considered an educated person after going through the progression of schooling, i.e. the attainment of preparatory to university level of learning. That is the real meaning of an educated person, as it is supposed to be. The normal schooling processes involve: attending classes; paying attention to what the teacher or lecturer says; study hard; sit to tests and exams and be graded by a teacher or lecturer to be promoted to the next stage or class.

Sadly, Sierra Leone is always classed among the least developed countries in the world, due to its several education related problems. Apart from the high number of illiterates in the country, it is pathetic to note that a large number of even those who are grouped among the literates cannot defend their standards of education.

Yes, they canít, because education in Sierra Leone these days is for sale, believe it or leave it. It is on auction and the citizenry, especially the rich people, are having a field day going for it.

With no disrespect intended, most of the countryís graduates do not worth the salt, as their qualifications are not attained through the normal educational procedure, but bought or granted at will.


Bottomline, Sierra Leone is producing Dunces en masse who are carrying educational qualifications on paper. We have become a Nation producing 'Dan-Dogos'(Dunces) who have bought the academic qualifications they sport.

That said, let me emphasize here that it is indeed a shame on both the sellers and buyers of our countryís education. Posterity will surely never forgive them for mauling our countryís educational system from the influential state it used to enjoy to the battered state it now maintains.

Let me at this point start naming and shaming those responsible for bringing Sierra Leoneís education system to the doldrums.

The Parents:

The parents are contributing greatly towards the dwindling standards in the educational system. They are supposed to serve as the primary guide to their children, especially when they (children) are at the primary and secondary school stages. They are supposed to monitor the activities of their children, both at home and at school. They are supposed to be the advisers of their children, in order for them to be serious with academic work and know the type of friends they should go out with. Parents are to make sure that their children go to school on a daily basis and ensure they study after coming from school.

But unfortunately however, most parents are so careless about the education of their children to an extent that activities that contribute to hindering their childrenís education are left unchecked. School going children are left on their own to go out at night, with no idea by the parents of where they are going.

They are allowed to watch all sorts of movies, in such times that they are supposed to be reading their books and doing their assignments. They enjoy going out with all sorts of friends, be them good or bad. Most unfortunate is the fact that some parents offer money to teachers in order for their children to be promoted to the next class or stage. Most parents use their children as domestic slaves and give them wares to sell immediately they come from school.

The Teachers:

If I am asked to name the highest contributor to the drop in education in Sierra Leone, the first class of people that comes to mind is the teachers themselves. They are notorious in degrading education as a trade, rather than the right it is. Instead of abiding by their sacred responsibilities of impacting their knowledge on the children, they are thoughtlessly responsible for dragging the system to the mud (portor portor). The lackadaisical behaviour perpetrated by teachers, if not checked, will lead to disaster for the future of this country. Teachers prefer summoning extra classes rather than concentrating their energies on normal school classes. They selfishly do this with no regard for the adverse effects this might have on the childrenís education. They print pamphlets on a ceaseless basis and force the students to choose between buying the pamphlets and standing the risk to fail that particular subject. Arrant nonsense! How can they be so wicked to this extent? Worse of all, some teachers will not even enter a classroom for an entire term, and will at the end of that term request that the students pay a certain fee so that they be given marks without taking an exams. Yes, it happens, and I have evidences of schools where these situations are common. A typical example involves a private school (name withheld for now) in the Eastend of Freetown. There is a teacher in the junior school classes that is supposed to teach a subject called Computer Basics. According to the students, this teacher has never entered the classroom since the start of the academic year, only for him to come now and ask them to pay the sum of Le 1,000 in order for them to be given 70% each for a subject they have no idea about.

For other teachers, instead of setting tests and exams for students to sit and be tested, they give assignments and ask the students to pay the sum of Le 1,000 when submitting their assignments.  Those who fail to pay this sum will have their assignments not collected. Why are these teachers so wicked, selfish and unpatriotic? Why? The less talked about those teachers, who have turned the schools into market places, the better. Some teachers, especially the male teachers, shamelessly indulge themselves into love affairs with the students.

The Students:

There is no way the students themselves can be excused from being contributors to the drop in educational standards. As the teachers and parents continue selling and buying education unabatedly, the students are also exhibiting the highest standard of non willingness to go through the normal education procedures. They highly rely on evading classes as they know there is another option for passing exams at the end of the day; the option of paying cash and sometimes pay in kind for undeserved marks. They hardly read their materials at home, as they prefer using their time home to indulge themselves in other activities, including watching movies, go clubbing, go out with bad friends and engaging in all sorts of idle talks. Yes, this is how the students nowadays behave. That is why students of even higher institutions of learning cannot write an informal letter properly, not to talk of constructing a simple grammar.

The Government:

The government is also contributing immensely to this negative occurrence. There is a free education policy in the country, which is left unmonitored and unendorsed. How can a country boast of a free education policy when teachersí salaries are nothing to write home about? Is Sierra Leone operating a free education policy when the teachers extort monies on a daily basis from parents and students? The availability of teaching and learning materials is nothing significant, so where is the free education?¬† Where is it?

Okay, I hear that the government has set up a commission of inquiry to look into the possible reasons for the drop in education in the country. We await the findings of the commission of inquiry and the steps, if any, that would be taken by the government to right the wrongs that have characterized the education sector for long a time.

For as long as education is put on auction, the country will continue to record worst occurrences till eternity. It is not a curse, but a reality.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.