SPEECH ON CORRUPT ACTIVITIES IN SCHOOLS AND ITS
EFFECT ON SERVICE DELIVERY
Ladies and Gentlemen, let me express my gratitude at being given this opportunity to address an issue concerning corrupt activities in schools and its effect on service delivery. A people without a sound education are like society without a sense of direction.
Sierra Leone educational system during the 19th century was a good example of western style education in sub Sahara Africa. The country was important in training professionals for the whole of West Africa. Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone was regarded as the ATHENS OF WEST AFRICA. But other African nations have move ahead of Sierra Leone while we remain behind in the delivery of educational services.
The primary reason for lack of good education was the eleven years civil war where all the country’s goals and aspirations were put on hold. Much of the country’s infrastructure – including schools were destroyed, population displaced reflecting a shortage of schools and teachers. Based on the government’s 2006 country report and 2004 Poverty Reduction Strategy, the Ministry of Education develop the education sector plan aimed at mapping out how the government will build the educational sector.
A goal was set that by 2015 all children will be going to school and receiving quality education. One of the main factors that prevent the provision and delivery of quality education in this country has been the sustained pressure of corruption. The education sector beginning with the Ministry of Education to the frontline service providers have been discovered to have a number of corrupt opportunities ranging from poor financial mismanagement procedures, administrative lapses and ineffective service delivery. This situation is well known and widely shared among educational planners and policy makers.
Corruption in the education sector can be defined as the systematic use of public office for private benefit the impact is seen in the non availability and quality of educational goods and services. Corruption in education is not a recent discovery. It has been observed in the management of educational system, a variety of instances of distortion in the use of resources, appointment, deployment and payment of teachers, ghost teachers, production and distribution of text books, private tutoring, and fraud in the use of aid targeted at education is not a new phenomenon either.
To be more precise, I have noted down five main corrupt practices in the educational sector such as:
- Embezzlement : that is theft of public resources by public officials – for example, the use of public/donor funds aimed at school construction
- Bribery: payment (in money or in kind) example, payment of bribes to be recruited as teachers without the appropriate credentials or payment by pupils or parents for illegal admissions.
- Fraud: economic crime that involves some kind of trickery or deceit – one manifestation in the education system where by a person can buy a fake result or credentials or examination malpractice
- Extortion: money and other resources extracted by the use of beating pupils who can not pay, or of failing pupils, sexual harassment of pupils by male teachers or the obligations for parents to pay illegal or unauthorized fees if they want their children to be admitted to school.
- Teachers forcing pupils to sell for them in school or buying their goods, this usually affects the school work or performance of both the teacher and the pupils.
Corruption in education constitutes a serious threat to the successive achievement of quality education as it tends to reduce the resources available for education e.g. Trained and qualified teachers, limits access to education (particular for disadvantaged groups) deteriorate the quality of education, increase social inequalities and moreover, in a longer term perspective, entails misallocation of talents and continue the culture of corruption.
The problem here is knowingly who is the corruptor and who is the corrupted. In some cases, the corruption exchange can be administrative-driven or teacher- driven or pupil /parent –driven.
In order to address these problems in the education sector, the Anti Corruption Commission which is charged with the responsibility to conduct comprehensive systems review in Government Ministries , Departments and Agencies, examined the educational system and recently published a report on their findings. In that report several corrupt practices were identified and recommendations made. Some of the corrupt practices are as follows:
- Financial Mismanagement by principals, head teachers and bursars
- Illegal Charges by school authorities
- Poor Procurement procedures
- Inadequate teaching and learning materials
- Teachers absenteeism/Loss of Instructional Time
- Teacher Certification
- Ineffective School Management Committee
- Lack of proper code of Conduct for teachers
- Victimization of pupils by teachers
After examining these corrupt practices identified, recommendations are made for best practices by the ACC. These recommendations are monitored to ensure compliance with standards, policies and regulations for effective service delivery in the education sector.
Also the Public Education and Outreach department at the ACC responsible to educate the public on the dangers of corruption has been very effective in engaging schools, colleges and other institutions of higher learning against corruption. The department has established twenty seven integrity clubs in 27 schools all over the country and 3 Accountability Now Clubs at IPAM, FOURAH Bay College and Milton Margai College of Education and Technology. The aim is to promote the sense of integrity in the young minds of school going children. Also Anti Corruption school manuals have been published so that it can be included in the school’s curriculum as an optional subject under emerging issues. The department also engages students by organizing symposiums, workshops, quiz competitions and public lectures as part of its educational drive through schools and tertiary institutions.
Thank you for your attention and the floor is open for questions.
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