16th June, 2021
In commemoration of this year's International Day of the African Child, which is created as an awareness campaign on the age-old struggle for a free society where we all live with equal opportunities, and the significant contribution of children to that struggle, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has, on Thursday 16th June, 2021 organized a symposium on the topic; "The Dangers of Examinations Malpractices to the Attainment of the Free Quality Education", at the Cathedral Hall, 3 Gloucester Street in Freetown.
The event which brought together over 100 pupils from different secondary schools in Freetown, was intended by the ACC to give these pupils a platform to join the national conversation on corruption and bring out the issues affecting them, how they are contributing positively to the control of the menace, and craft methods as partners to address these anomalies.
Welcoming the pupils and other participants, the Deputy Commissioner ACC, Augustine Foday Ngobie who was Chairman of the occasion stated that the event, organized yearly by the ACC, brings pupils together to highlight to them the importance of what it means to be a child in Africa and the need to educate them on the negative effects of corruption and how it limits their access to opportunities, and why they should actively be involved in curbing it.
Speaking to the pupils and others present at the event, Commissioner Francis Ben Kaifala highlighted the importance of improving the educational system in Sierra Leone; and recruited the support of the pupils in eliminating and/or controlling corruption in the education sector-- referring to them as the drivers of the change that Sierra Leone desperately needs.
He stated that young people especially pupils are often excluded in critical national conservations, but assured that the ACC under his leadership sees young people especially pupils as vital components in the fight against corruption in the education sector; "that is why the Commission has vigorously over the years established Integrity Clubs across secondary schools in the country to serve as a platform for you to be involved; and has today held this symposium for you to come and discuss freely the issues and proffer solutions to the problems together as partners to us", he averred. He told the pupils that if they join the ACC to fight corruption well in Sierra Leone and win, they will be the greatest beneficiaries of that victory-- as they will enjoy a fair educational system, with access to unlimited opportunities to attain their potentials and live longer to enjoy the country well. "In 10-20 years from now, you will be the ones occupying positions in Government where corruption now happens. It is better we prepare you now with the right mindsets to be able to make the right decision now and always". He ended by urging the pupils to chant, "You are the ones we have been waiting for", which they chanted enthusiastically.
Delivering the keynote address at the august event, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of the Millennium Challenge Corporation Coordinating Unit, Ndeye Fatu Koroma, admonished the pupils to always demonstrate integrity in everything they do. She told them that just like many of them, she also struggled with her grades and faced other challenges in the process of understanding herself and her environment like any child coming up; but one thing she never compromised was her integrity and fairness in everything she did, especially when she had to make decisions where nobody was watching her.
Madam Koroma narrated a brief story of her encounter with making choices between what was right and wrong during her days as a pupil in high school; and how making the right choices whilst protecting her integrity has always set the tone for the rest of her life-- culminating into her current position in Governance. "The key to integrity is decision making. When we talk about things like examination malpractices and malfeasance, it is a decision you have to make about who you are. And believe me, it is a slippery slope, once you begin compromising your values, you never stop, you just keep going down", she said. Referring to education as the bedrock of our society, she called on the pupils to continue to work hard with integrity, desist and expose all those who indulge in examination malpractices, and continue supporting the ACC through the Integrity Clubs in the fight against corruption for the development of Sierra Leone. "A developed Sierra Leone means better opportunities for you to pursue and attain your potentials", she concluded.
The panel discussion was moderated by Dr. Williette James, Head of Mass Communications Department, Fourah Bay College, and comprised Alexander Wilson, Chairman of the Community Teachers Association, Government Rokel Secondary School Freetown, Ansumana Keita, Executive Director of Patriotic Advocacy Network-Sierra Leone, Alphonso Manley, Executive Director, the Civil Rights Coalition, and Jacob Jalloh a pupil at the Government Technical Secondary School; who thoroughly dissected the topic, proffering recommendations from their different perspectives on how to address the problems of examination malpractices in the country. They also adequately answered questions from the audience during the panel discussion.
Director of Public Education and Outreach at the ACC, Patrick Sandi gave the closing courtesies and encouraged the pupils and partners to continue to support the Commission's efforts in awareness raising on the dangers of corruption. He reminded all present that, Government is currently making its highest investment in the education sector, and reminded all of their individual responsibilities to making sure that those resources are protected to enable us get the desired results for the good of country. "Always call the toll free line 515 to report corruption. And always desist from all forms of examination malpractices," he furthered.
©Public Relations Unit, ACC