From Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown

Local News
In Sierra Leone, Children Storm Parliament with the Dynamic Mother of the Nation in Tow
By Augustine Samba
Oct 26, 2010, 17:16

Children of Sierra Leone have presented an appeal in parliament with relation to barriers to the achievement of girl child education in the country.

During the presentation of the petition on Monday 25th October 2010, First Lady of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Mrs. Sia Nyama Koroma, disclosed that according to recent data, 54 percent of primary school children in Sierra Leone are currently enrolled in schools and 64 percent of this category have successfully completed primary education.

Mrs. Koroma stated that in 1990, the     Government of Sierra Leone signed an important document on the Convention on the Rights of the Child, adding that it was adopted on the 10th June 2010.

Sierra Leonean Children speaking out in House of Parliament

She said the government also signed the African Charter for the Rights and Welfare of the Child.

The First Lady informed her audience that Article 28 of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) guarantees the right to free primary education and where appropriate free secondary education for the girl child. She continued that Article 29 of the TRC also emphasized that education must be directed to the development of the child’s personality, finance, mental and physical buildup.

The Millennium Development Goals (MDG) and the Education for All also encapsulate the promotion of girl education in Sierra Leone, she maintained. First Lady assured that as mother of the nation, she will always be with the children to advocate for the promotion of quality education for the girls in Sierra Leone.

UNICEF Country Representative. Mahimbo Mdoe said although attendance rates for boys and girls are almost equal at the primary education level, the dropout rate for girls is higher at the transition stage and attendance rate for girls in secondary school is only 29 percent.

He said this is due to early marriage, teenage pregnancy, sexual harassment, poverty, extra charges and lack of proper parental guidance and supervision. He furthered that if there is to be any gains in addressing some of the key Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), such as universal access to primary education, gender parity, reducing child mortality and improving maternal health, there has to be sustained investment in girls’ education.

UNICEF’s Mahimbo Mdoe used the forum as an opportunity to call for the ratification of the sexual offences bill now so that the dignity, potential and aspirations of the girl child could be realized.

The Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Abel Nathaniel Stronge, said society has let the children down and one way to reduce it can be done through churches and mosques.

He said laws have been enacted but the implementation of the said laws are lacking in the country. The Speaker of the House commended the role of the police in investigating and charging to court sexual offences.

He however, expressed disappointment that some family members prefer to settle such cases at home rather than leaving the perpetrators to face the full force of the law.

Chairman for the Parliamentary Committee for Education, Alhaji O. Daramy, assured the children that the President will make sure they benefit in the educational system in Sierra Leone. He pointed out that enrolment into the science streams at University is free of cost.

© Copyright 2005, Freetown, Sierra Leone.