The Southern Region office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has enlightened staff and students of the Government Technical Institute (GTI) on the allocation, management and utilization of the Skills Development Funds (SDF). The engagements took place on Tuesday 26th and Thursday 28th October 2021 at both GTI campuses in Moyamba Town, Moyamba District and Mattru Jong, Bonthe District respectively. The Skills Development Funds is provided by the World Bank to the Government of Sierra Leone to capacitate young people to acquire technical skills.
Addressing staff and students, ACC’s Regional Manager, South, Momodu Sittar, underscored the relevance of technical skills to the growth of the country. Mr. Sittar said that the efforts of the Government and its development partners to change the story of technical education would be futile if corruption is rife in the management of funds allocated for the project. He appreciated the courage of young people who have decided to transform their lives through the acquisition of unique skills that would add value to their lives.
Mr Sittar stated that Sierra Leoneans should not continue to be bedfellows with the corrupt as their acts have resulted in the deplorable state of public infrastructure. He reminded the student of their civic responsibility to serve as whistleblowers, be punctual, honest and transparent. ''If Sierra Leone is corruption-free, service delivery will be efficient,'' he said.
In his statement, Senior Public Education Officer Abdulai Saccohshed light on some of the practices that are plaguing most tertiary institutions such as; distortion of enrollment, regular demand of unauthorized charges, favoritism, sexual harassment, certificate forgery, absenteeism, nepotism and payment for grades. Mr. Saccoh admonished students to adhere to laid down procedures, rules and regulations in order to acquire the required skills so that they can contribute meaningfully in society. He encouraged the students to be studious with their work as the profession is a life-saving enterprise. Mr. Saccoh cautioned staff and students to desist from the aforementioned despicable acts as they constitute offences in the 2008 Anti-Corruption Act as amended in 2019.
Senior Regional Corruption Prevention Officer, Francis Lassayo, said the Commission is handling the grievance redress mechanism component of the Skills Development Funds project. Mr. Lassayo described the SDF as a capacity building drive which is geared towards filling the middle level man power vacuum of the country. He reflected on the recent monitoring exercise the ACC undertook to assess the management and utilization of the funds received by selected technical institutes. Mr. Lassayo noted that the exercise is ongoing and appropriate actions would be taken at any point if there is blatant disregard for law. He assured both administrations of the Commission’s willingness to work with them to setup corruption prevention safeguards.
ACC's Public Education Officer, Yangie Deborah Sesay described the engagement as a platform to engage staff and students on allocation and utilization of the SDF, the adverse consequences of corruption in acquiring technical skills, and to enlist their support in fighting corruption. Miss Sesay stated that the Commission does not work in isolation but collaboratively with other pillars of integrity to combat the scourge. She explained the benefits of reporting corruption, how to report and the guarantee for theprotection of informers.
The principals of the two institutions Joseph S. Joe (GTI-Moyamba) and Musa M. Jalloh (GTI-Mattru Jong) heaped praises on the Commission for its timely intervention to help shape the attitudes and thoughts of the students. They assured the ACC of their unflinching support in combating graft, and promised to institute anti-corruption measures in the management and utilization of the funds. They commended the Government of Sierra Leone and its partners for the support but called on the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education to address issues of instructors who have been given pin codes but who have gone without salary for months.
A question-and-answer session climaxed the engagements.