President Ernest Bai Koroma has showered very generous praises on his spouse, First Lady Sia Nyama Koroma, for her attitudinal-and-behavioural-change organization’s efforts at setting the pace for other organisations to follow in responding to his call for attitudinal and behaviourial change in the Sierra Leonean mindset.
At a special ceremony at State House on Tuesday 23rd March 2010 for the handing over of ‘Draft Textbooks on Citizenship Education for Attitudinal and Behavioural Change in School’ compiled by the First Lady’s organization (called FLAX - First Lady’s Attitudinal & Character project) on the responsibilities and good characteristics of citizenship, the President thanked the organization "particularly the First Lady" for the tangible move in targeting the minds of young people with regards love for country and for the fellow human being.
"Indeed, this is a good response to the call I made to this nation.…I am sure many people did not know where I was coming from… Having spent most of my life in this country, knowing what we inherited from our colonial masters, having gone through the rigours of post-independence trauma, having tasted the bitterness of war, and knowing the kind of natural and human resources that God has endowed to us as a nation, I was and I am still fundamentally convinced that all we need is a change of attitudes and behaviours for us to lift this nation up…. No country can rise above the competence and character of its people…"
|First Lady Sia Koroma poses with ECOWAS Security Chiefs as part of her official duties in service to Sierra Leone.|
The President said many of the countries that are developed today did not have the experience of being pampered as we are, but that we must change our attitudes to rebuild the nation. "We need to believe in ourselves, as the final responsibility of building this nation lies with us. We must rise to the occasion. We will rise to the occasion." He said the presentation of the draft citizenship text books proposed to be used in primary schools was one such response.
The Head of State thanked all those who put their efforts into the project and for targeting "that age where change should start. We will be growing up a new generation of Sierra Leoneans that will think Sierra Leone, that will work for Sierra Leone and know that Sierra Leone is for all of us. There should be no ethnic or religious divisions… No divisions should separate us, as we all have a common heritage."
The President then called for other organizations to emulate FLAX’s response, while calling on all Sierra Leoneans to take the call for a change of attitudes seriously, ending with "Thank you all, and God bless us all."
In her preceding remarks before she presented the copies of the books, First Lady Sia Koroma considered it an honour to do the presentation, recalling that, "when you made that call during your inauguration, many people did not know what you meant, others thought you were merely making a statement; but today the call is having a clearer meaning, touching the heart, soul, mind, and humanity in general, as you propagate a message of peace, unity and national reconciliation." The First Lady said, as the President’s close confidante, who knew his businesslike approach to life, she found it imperative and incumbent upon her to follow and help in implementing the President’s dream and vision, which culminated to the formation of the organization. She maintained that she has always loved children and apparently aiming at "building a new generation of civilized citizens and leaders."
Giving an overview of the project, one of the executive members of the organization, Rev. Dr. Modupeh Taylor-Pearce, who led the opening prayers earlier, said "we are looking at the bigger goal that Sierra Leone should become the praise of the earth; for hearts and minds to be transformed so that we can become the best," telling the President that "when you came as a catalyst to wake the emotions in us, you struck a chord that it is possible to reach the heights. That Sierra Leone, we can." He said the project is based on five ‘P’s – Practical, Positive, Planned, Productive, Perseverance.
One of the compilers of the books, Mr. Julius Fischer, said the books were meant mainly for primary school pupils of all classes with slight variations for each class, and that the contents were based on citizenship with a bias for attitudinal and behavioural change, stating that the social and political environment called for even the teachers to undergo some training.
The Director of the Attitudinal and Behavioural Change Secretariat, Philip Conteh, was the Master of Ceremony, while the vote of thanks was given by one of the organisation’s members, Mrs. Irelen West.
The books are the product of two years of research and editing by professors and university lecturers, including Dr. Ramadan Dumbuya of the Strategy and Policy Unit.