|School Children Sierra Leone|
You could say that my nephew was just a poor student, but interactions with other recent Sierra Leone graduates, even some recent university graduates, has occasionally left a bitter taste in my mouth. If the deterioration in educational standards was just in isolated pockets of the country, that could be understandable and maybe attributable to certain factors that could be easily explained . But the fact that this deterioration seems to be systemic, affecting every area of the country is not only alarming, but could well be catastrophic for the future of the country.
The war however officially ended in 2002 and even though it is now 2012, news emanating from Sierra Leone on the educational front is bleak and disheartening to those of us who know the positive role that good education can play in assuring the future well being of both the individual and society.
The importance of education in any society need not be overemphasized. To emphasize the major role that education plays in a country's economic development, most economists refer to education as an investment in human capital. For developing countries like Sierra Leone, education is crucial, as no government, no matter how great its ambition may be, will succeed without an enlightened and technically trained citizenry in this age of technical progress. For a government to implement its development plans effectively, it has to draw from the expertise of the citizens and if they are not up to the task, the result will always be failure no matter how well thought out the development plans are.
|Freetown Sierra Leone|
|Hell's Corridor-Kailahun Road|
Sierra Leone as a country needs to invest in the education of its people. No single political party can be blamed for years of systematic disregard of the once great educational sector in the country. The increase in a lot of negatives in the society; violent crime, thuggery, "raray boys", burglary, corruption, hooliganism, can all be attributed to a society that has not put the necessary focus on developing the youth and teaching them to regard themselves as individuals of substance and worth. In most developed nations, the government relies on the individuals for development and basic progress. In Sierra Leone however, the reverse is true as individuals rely on and blame the government for everything, the simple reason being that most people lack the expertise to be sufficiently independent.
Though Sierra Leone is far behind on the global development train, it is never too late to catch up. I know the country has excellent educational policies in place and most times in our country our problem is implementation. I will however endeavor to add my own voice to what I believe should be the way forward. The following points are purely my opinion, but I do hope those who are leaders in the educational sector will give my points a read and even if they disagree with me, at least they would have heard another point of view, which is what education is all about.
GREATER INVESTMENT IN EARLY CHILDHOOD EDUCATION
- In most developed countries early childhood education is viewed as the foundation of human development. In Sierra Leone, there is now this tendency for teachers without strong intellectual foundation to migrate to primary schools as those represent an easier and less challenging population to teach. This is a disastrous situation as it is within this period that the foundation for future intellect is developed. Primary schools in my opinion should have the best and highest paid teachers. A lot of Sierra Leoneans reading this may disagree, but I can safely say that my primary school teachers, ranging from Mr. Jajua in class 1 of Methodist Primary School, Segbwema, to Mr. Thorpe in class 7 of Samaria Primary school, Wellington Street, Freetown played a much greater role in my education than all my secondary school teachers combined. In those days, a primary school teacher taught you every subject; from Maths, Social Studies, History, Civic,....... to English. If your primary school teachers were not very clever, or were not academically strong, you were not going to be strong in any of the foundation subjects and by the time you got to secondary school, you had become the type of student who aimed at 50% and was glad to just pass to another class, a foundation that prepared you more for being a future political thug than a future civil servant or private entrepreneur.
- Every school in Sierra Leone should place the same emphasis on technical subjects as they do on the more traditional subjects. The advantage with an emphasis on skills training is that the trainee graduates with readily marketable skills that will promote their own independence. There are hundreds of technical colleges in America where people go to learn essential skills that they can use the day they graduate. Sierra Leone's technical schools should collaborate with manufacturing and mining industries to produce labor that is ready for use in these industries. Skills like carpentry, automotive technicians, welding, and so on are necessary for the technical progress in a country.
|Fourah Bay College|
- I hope the academic offering or subject offered by a college like FBC has changed or is changing. In the 90s, there were very few students in the essential faculties like engineering and science. There was a surplus of students reading mundane subjects like Greek and Roman History, and though I have enormous respect for ancient Greek and Romans, I would have preferred to see more of my colleagues engaged in the study of subjects that involved researching how the country was going to get out of the terrible economic mess we were in during those days. I hope and pray things have changed, as Sierra Leone needs a flexible and adaptable workforce that can meet the demands of 21st century technological changes