Friday, 30 August 2013

Sierra Leone: Lack of learning materials affects right to education

Concord Times (Freetown)
Sierra Leone: Lack of Learning Materials Affects Right to Education
By Ibrahim Tarawallie, 28 August 2013

The 2012 State of the Human Rights in Sierra Leone report has highlighted the inadequate provision of basic teaching and learning materials and other school resources like furniture by government to schools in remote areas as affecting the enjoyment of the right to education, especially for pupils in rural communities. The report, which was put together by the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone, stated that the 6-3-4-4 system of education recommended by the Gbamanja Commission of

Inquiry in 2010 took effect in the 2012/2013 academic year, but faced challenges in its implementation.

"In Gbonkomayeamie village in the Port Loko district, where no established government primary school exists, classes were conducted under a big cotton tree and children carried their benches to and from school daily," the report stated. "The Commission was informed that during the rainy reason and even during the dries, classes were halted as a result of the rain or the heat from the sun. The school had no provision for safe drinking water or toilets."

It is further indicated in the report that the November 17, 2012 general elections disrupted part of the 2012/2013 academic year of some educational institutions and that during the one-month political campaign period, attendance of children in schools was irregular as most parents kept their children at home, afraid that violence might erupt between and among political party members and supporters.

The report recommended that the ministry of education, science and technology conduct a national research on access to education, especially for children in rural communities, and also provide the needed resources for the full implementation of the 6-3-4-4 system. The government was also urged to address the grievances of lecturers and other staff in the universities and other tertiary institutions so as to minimize the incidences of strike actions. When contacted for his comment on the recommendations, deputy minister of education 1, Osmond Hanciles, refused to talk on the issue despite earlier consenting to an interview with this reporter at his New England office.

"I cannot comment on this issue. You can talk to our new public relations officer in the ministry who will respond to you," he said.

However, the public relations officer, Brima Michael Turay, also refused to comment when he was contacted on the phone, insisting that the reporter must come over to his office.

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