As a way of preventing incidences of corruption in public institutions, the North West Regional office of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) on 14th March, 2023 engaged Education stakeholders in Port Loko City at the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) Conference Hall in Port Loko City. The customized meeting was a response to several complaints relating to corruption as well as a preventive approach to addressing inadequacies inherent in the sector.
Addressing school administrators, the Regional Manager Madam Fatu Florence Kamara said policies developed in the sector are an essential part to providing a roadmap to the development of education, and gives guidance to decision making and defining expected standards of the quality of education in Sierra Leone. She pointed out that any act of corruption in the implementation of these policies defeats the purpose therein and consequently affects the standard and quality of education in the country. Manager Kamara emphasized that corruption and other administrative disregards will adversely affect the full realization of the key components of the Free Quality Education policy relating to access, equity completion, quality assurance and relevance, integrity and system strengthening.
The Regional Head reminded them of the oversight functions of the Commission on all public bodies and expressed serious concerns over the many complaints of illegal charges and extortion particularly issues relating to payment for report cards, payment for assignment and tests, absenteeism and late fees, exams malpractice, falsification of report cards, payment of extra classes within the precinct of the school, misuse of school fees subsidies among other things. She urged them to increase their monitoring mechanisms, abide by the dictates of the education policy and also informed them that the 2019 Amendment Act of the ACC makes examination malpractice a punishable offence with Fifty Million Leones on conviction or five years imprisonment or both.
The Deputy Director of Education in Port Loko, Alpha D. Bangura acknowledged the efforts of the ACC in curbing corrupt practices in schools. Commenting on the issue of handling community teachers and its related issues, he provided a succinct explanation on the processes involved to the establishment of community schools and the recruitment of teachers therein. He also made clear the different roles of Board members, financial management and procedures, School Management Committees and Community stakeholders on the effective management of schools in the region.
The North-West Regional Coordinator for the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) Ibrahim Sheka Kanu called on the heads of schools to support the FQSE as Government has shown commitment to improving the quality of education in the country. He expressed dismay on the deliberate inflation and discrepancies of school rolls which he said has affected the payment of fees subsidies to most schools.
The engagement according to the Senior Public Education Officer was to engage stakeholders in the sector and management of the Ministry on critical issues relating to their operations.
Public Education Officer, Mohamed Thullah who spoke on ethics in the workplace stated that ethics as a key component of integrity regulates the conduct, attitude and behavior of public officers to be professional in their lines of duty.
In terms of internalizing the fight, he said Integrity Management Committees (IMC) provides a road map to internalizing the fight against corruption in various Ministries, Departments and Agencies adding that, a functional and an operational IMC will ensure strong internal controls to address corruption vulnerabilities in MDAs.
He encouraged them to maintain high ethical standards in their daily operations and activities. He also provided a precise explanation of the three pronged approach to combatting graft and bribery.
Questions and answers session and the presentation of ACC's IEC materials climaxed the engagement.
©ACC NORTHWEST OFFICE