By: Usman Fambuleh, Intern, Acc
Sierra Leone, a West African nation with a turbulent history, has been grappling with a major crisis in its educational sector due to the pervasive issue of corruption. The detrimental consequences of corruption have affected the country’s ability to provide quality education to its citizens, hindering progress and development. Corruption has damaged Sierra Leone’s educational system and the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has made tremendous efforts in the fight against it.
Corruption, in Sierra Leone’s education system, has had far-reaching and damaging effects. It has eroded trust and accountability, contributing to a decline in the quality of education. The issue of corruption has also resulted in the embezzlement of educational funds meant for the construction of schools, purchase of educational materials, and payment of teachers’ salaries. These misappropriations have left educational institutions underfunded and struggling to operate effectively.
Corruption has also seeped into the examination process, with exam papers being sold to students in exchange for bribes. This not only undermines the integrity of the educational system but also devalues the qualifications of students. Several Sierra Leoneans who have gone abroad to study have been subjected to take an entrance exam away from their Certificates from Sierra Leone. A clear example is the fake degree saga involving Dominion University.
Furthermore, corrupt practices have led to the appointment of unqualified individuals to key positions within the educational sector. This nepotism and favoritism have hindered the recruitment of competent teachers and administrators, further deteriorating the quality of education.
In addition, corruption has become endemic at various levels of the education system. Teachers and administrative staff often demand bribes from students and parents, for services such as enrollment and grades, making education less accessible and equitable.
However, the ACC plays a pivotal role in combating corruption, including within the educational sector. Its responsibilities include investigating, prosecuting, and preventing corrupt practices. The Commission has made numerous efforts to salvage these endemic corruption practices. The Anti-Corruption (Amendment) Act 2019 has a clear provision in Section 128 (3) that criminalizes all forms of educational and academic malpractice (fraud) and it carries a sanction upon conviction a minimum fine of 50 Thousand (New) Leones or a Five-year minimum jail term or both.
The ACC holds individuals and institutions accountable for their corrupt actions, which is essential for deterring future corruption in the education sector. The ACC’s actions serve as a deterrent, sending a clear message that corruption will not be tolerated. This can discourage potential wrongdoers from engaging in corrupt practices.
The ACC also raises awareness through its Public Education and External Outreach Department about the detrimental effects of corruption in education and promotes transparency and good governance. This is vital for building public support for the Commission’s anti-corruption drive.
Corruption has had a devastating impact on Sierra Leone’s educational system, compromising its ability to provide quality education to its citizens. The ACC in Sierra Leone is an indispensable institution in the battle against corruption within the education sector. Its role in holding individuals and institutions accountable, deterring corruption, promoting transparency, and operating within a legal framework makes it a critical player in restoring integrity and trust in the country’s educational system. Sierra Leone’s journey to educational reform and progress depends on its ability to combat corruption effectively.