Education Ministries Hold Sector Review

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The Ministries of Technical and Higher Education & Basic and Senior Secondary Education on 3rd June, 2021 held a programme for the Joint Education Sector Review (JSSR) at the Bintumani Hotel Conference Hall.

The purpose of the meeting was to critically look at the current Education Sector Plan 2014-2018, which encompasses three intervention areas (access, quality and completion; quality, relevance and integrity; and education system strengthening), with a view to developing a new one.

In his statement, the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Prof. Alpha Tejan Wurie, expressed his delight over the attendance of a blend of people from different institutions that are critical to the growth of Sierra Leone, admonishing them to centre their discussions around the expansive sector of education, ranging from basic, senior secondary to tertiary and technical levels. He further encouraged the participants to consider in their discussions people like the handicapped, who may encounter difficulty in accessing schools, noting the importance of non-formal education in the joint-sector review.

According to the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Dr. David Sengeh,  the presence of representatives from different sectors of government clearly shows that education is not just about politics but about life. He mentioned the importance of Free Quality School Education (FQSE), ascribing it to the provision of curriculum, teaching and learning materials, the provision of resources for libraries, and the training and management of teachers.

ENERGY MINISTER LIGHTS JOJOIMA & BOAJIBU TOWNS

Jojoima, Malema Chiefdom in the Kailahun District and Boajibu, Simbaru Chiefdom in the Kenema District, respectively, were scenes of jubilation over the weekend as President Bio’s dream of nationwide unhindered Universal Access to Electricity was transformed into reality by Energy Minister.

Alhaji Kanja Sesay reiterated in Jojoima that when he was made Energy Minister by President Julius Maada Bio, he received special instructions to ensure unhindered Universal Access to Electricity nationwide. He maintained that, light is a fundamental human right and assured that President Bio was poised to provide that basic right nationwide. Jojoima, the minister went on, had a special place in the heart of H.E Bio based on the outcome of the last Presidential Elections in 2018.  Both the Parliamentary and Presidential votes were huge, the Minister added, clearly showed the level of confidence and trust the people Jojoima had in H.E Bio and hence “We are not here to do a favour to the people of Jojoima. You deserve what you are receiving today in addition to the ultra-modern Hospital that is under construction” the minister noted. Alhaji Kanja Sesay further admonished the people to support and take the greatest care of the Mini-Grid facility to ensure sustainability and in a very special way commended the roles played by Mr and Mrs Samuel Jibao, MP Hon. Kanneh, Paramount Chief Lamin Ngevao, Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Energy Hon. Keikura Vandy and other stakeholders in support of the electrification project.

Similarly in BOAJIBU, Simbaru Chiefdom, Kenema District, Alhaji Kanja Sesay on Sunday 6th June 2021 turned on the lights for the first time in 27 years despite the inclement weather. In his brief address, minister Kanja Sesay recalled his previous visit to Simbaru Chiefdom as Commissioner NCRRR to facilitate the resettlement of the Paramount Chief and her displaced indigenes after late President Kabbah declared the official end of the war in 2002. His presence in Simbaru Chiefdom again, the minister opined, was to represent President Bio and the SLPP government to fulfill another Manifesto promise of Universal Access to Electricity, typical of the biblical connotation of God’s command in Genesis 1:5 which says ” And God said, Let there be light: and there was light”

The Rural Electrification Project, the minister disclosed, is a partnership involving the Government of Sierra Leone, UNOPS and Power-Gen known as the operators.

He furthered that because the Government of President Bio believes inclusion and fair distribution of the national cake, the renegotiated Rural Electrification component of the CLSG is extended beyond the south-east to the north and Northwest of Sierra Leone. “President Bio’s government does not believe in color, region or tribe and so major towns and smaller communities in the north, like in the southeast, will also benefit from the Electricity project” the minister emphasized and urged the people Simbaru to take ownership of the facility to ensure sustainability. Other speakers before the official commissioning of the light in both Chiefdoms included the Chairman Parliamentary Committee on Energy Hon. Kemzo Vandy, the Paramount Chief in Malema Chiefdom/ Representative in Simbaru Chiefdom, MP/ Representative,  Sao Lamin representing Civil Society and Mr. Jalloh Manager Power Gen among others.

Water Minister Inspects Guma Sites

The Minister of Water Resources Philip K. Lansana, his deputy Nimatulai Bah-Chang and a cross section of senior management staff of Guma Valley Water Company on Friday 4th June 2021 visited project sites at the Guma Babadorie facility at Regent and Mambo Village.

The visit by the Minister and team was to assess progress on the Freetown Emergency Recovery Project (FERP) and the Mambo/Hamilton Water Supply Project funded by the World Bank and the Government of Sierra Leone respectively.

The development objective of Freetown Emergency Recovery Project (FERP) for Sierra Leone is to rehabilitate selected critical infrastructure affected during the 2017 Mudslide at Regent and to strengthen government capacity for managing disaster risk; whereas the objective of the Mambo/Hamilton Water Supply project is to improved public service delivery and increased sustainable access to safe water supply to the two communities.

Under the Freetown Emergency Recovery Project, the Water Supply component is being handled by PAVI FORT and HDF; PAVI FORT is working on the rehabilitation of the Treatment Plant whilst HDF is working on laying of the transmission pipe lines.

Construction works on the FERP commenced in September 2020 and is now 80% completed; so far, the installation of a new Transformer and two (2) new Pumps, Flow Meters, installation of 4.5km of pipe line from Regent to Malama Lumley, rehabilitation of the Sand Washing Bay, Filters and Lighting system have been completed.

The visit ended at the site of the Mambo/ Hamilton Water Supply Project deep inside the Western Area Forest Reserve Park, where the Contractor Brunnenbau Conrad (bbc) assured the minister that 70% of the work would have been completed by the end of June 2021.

 The Minister, Philip K. Lansana expressed satisfaction over the progress made so far on both projects and promised his cooperation as and when needed.

The Managing Director of Guma Valley Water Company, Maada Kpenge expressed similar sentiments to the Minister and to World Bank and the Government of Sierra Leone for their interventions.

The visiting delegation were taken on a conducted tour of the various project sites by the Chief Engineer Prince Moore-Sourie and the Planning Manager Ibrahim C. Bah, who updated them on progress of the works.

 

High Commissioner of Nigeria, Ambassadors of Belgium and Turkey Present Letters of Credence to President Bio

The High Commissioner of the Federal Republic of Nigeria to Sierra Leone, Ambassadors of the Republic of Turkey and the Kingdom of Belgium to Sierra Leone have presented their letters of credence to His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio at the Credential Room.

In a brief ceremony marking the occasion, the Nigerian High Commissioner-designate, His Excellency Henry John Omaku, Ambassador-designate for Turkey, His Excellency Sibel Erkan and Ambassador-designate for Belgium, His Excellency Michael Wimmer, all presented their documents of recommendations from their various governments.

All three countries have had great relationships with Sierra Leone and still seek to maintain and strengthen those ties. Nigeria’s relationship with Sierra Leone dates back to over four centuries ago and from 1883 when the British captured slave ships and freed them in Freetown.

Turkish-Sierra Leonean relations were established around 1971 but its embassy in Freetown commenced operations in February 2018. Sierra Leone now has an embassy in Ankara, Turkey’s cosmopolitan capital, since 2020.

Turkey has been a member of the UN Peace-building Commission for Sierra Leone Configuration since April 2012. Turkey is also providing development assistance to Sierra Leone in various domains. Since 1992 the government of Turkey has been granting scholarships to students from Sierra Leone. 

Sierra Leone and Belgium have long-standing bilateral and multilateral relations. The Embassy of the Republic of Sierra Leone in Brussels, Belgium, was established in 1978 as a multilateral station with multiple accreditations to the Kingdom of Belgium, the Kingdom of The Netherlands, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, Greece, the Vatican, and the Republic of France.

It is also accredited to several international organizations like the European Union, the African, Caribbean and Pacific Group of States, the International Criminal Court, and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons.

Bar President Shows Support for SLAJ

The President of the Sierra Leone Bar Association, Madam Michaela Eddinia Swallow said that Lawyers and Journalists share a common cause to promote the Rule of Law, safeguard Good Governance and protect Human Rights.

As lawyers, President Swallow said they are always in readiness to take up those issues by challenging the actions in court whilst journalists do so through various publications in the media. She applauded President Nasralla for sustaining the partnership and collaboration between the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists and the Sierra Leone Bar Association.

“Thank you President Nasralla for fanning this flame of collaboration between these two great professional bodies,” President Swallow said.

Speaking on the theme: “Looking Inwards: towards a strong and united SLAJ and a free and professional media”, marking the commemoration of SLAJ’s Golden Jubilee in Bo City, Galliness Paradise Hotel Hall, President Swallow urged media practitioners to use the AGM as an opportunity to learn from the past, address the present challenges and prepare for the future.

According to her, SLAJ can look back with pride because of the pivotal role the Association has played in strengthening democracy and peace consolidation.

She said, “As your Association addresses the current challenges ranging from the economic sustainability of media outlets to improving the working conditions of Journalists, remember that every professional association has its challenges but you must face them, embrace them, defy them and conquer them. As you look inwards, you must also prepare for the future as the rise of the new media has enabled the spread of disinformation and continues to undermine professional journalism.”

She used the occasion to join SLAJ in celebrating the repeal of Part V of the Public Order Act of 1965 and the enactment of the Independent Media Commission Act of 2020.

President Swallow reiterated that Journalism is more than just a profession, adding that it is “that oxygen that keeps our democracy alive.”

Referencing the Sierra Leone Constitution (Act No. 6 of 1991), especially Section 11 thereto, Lawyer Swallow reminded her audience that the Constitution confers an obligation on the media to highlight the responsibility and accountability of the Government to the people.

She commended and congratulated media practitioners for their commitment to the profession amidst those challenges.

On his part, the Minister of Information and Communications, Hon. Mohamed Rahman Swaray, admonished journalists to pay keen attention on issues of press freedom and ethical values that will lead to the growth of the media profession.

Under their leadership, he said the media industry is growing increasingly but there is still need to collaborate to foster development.

Hon. Swaray said His Excellency President Dr. Julius Maada Bio has pledged his commitment to support a pluralistic press and pledged to continue in supporting SLAJ as an independent Association.

President of SLAJ, Ahmed Sahid Nasralla said COVID 19 didn’t spare any sector including the media. Despite those challenges, he said the media has always been there to report the stories.

He revealed that SLAJ partnered with Civil Society Organizations to organise the first Presidential Debate, stating that the outcome was successful and commendable.

In his Keynote address, the UN Resident Coordinator, Dr. Babatunde A. Ahonsi said development issues have been under-reported and therefore encouraged journalists to also focus on development and human interest stories.

Whilst commending Journalists for the key advocacy role for the repeal of the 1965 Public Order Act, especially Part 5 of the said Act, the UN Resident Coordinator urged journalists to continue to report the truth in a balanced and objective manner as the country prepares for the 2023 national elections.

PUBLIC REVIEW ARTICLE

THE OSWALD HANCILES COLUMN

“Her Excellency” Theresa Kumba James Challenged Ben Kaifala in Kailahun

On June 4, 2021, inside the Kailahun  District Council Hall, the Commissioner of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC), Ben Kaifala, got what he had asked for – a frank “conversation” with ordinary people in the last leg of his nationwide Meet-the-People tour; “I would not be embarrassed by any question”, the 37 year old anti-graft boss had said – when ebony black, beautiful, articulate 15 years old “Her Excellency Theresa Kumba James” (that was what she described herself) a Senior Secondary  School-1 pupil of the Methodist Secondary School in Kailahun (MSSK)   said that the ACC Commissioner was wrong in stigmatizing their teachers for  colluding with pupils to cheat in public examinations.  Kumba said the real problem was the West Africa Examination Council (WAEC) officers sent to the district to supervise public examinations, who would rather  “wage war” on them  to enrich themselves. Kumba was born on 30th March, 2006. Her father is Sahr Emmanuel James, a teacher at the Kailahun District Education Committee Primary School. She typified the eager pupils, and youth, who were entranced and engaged audiences as Ben Kaifala inspired them during his tour. The other was. .

Jibao Keifala of the same school as Kumba. He was  born on 4th  March, 2003, at Kulala Section of Kailahun town. He had asked about the dormant “Integrity Clubs” that had been catalyzed by the ACC. He said teachers in his school were still demanding money from pupils in exchange of grades. He is an advocate against that corruption.  Jibao Keifala aims to get to university and study public administration. The Director of Outreach and Public Education in the ACC, Patrick Sandi, said that the Integrity Clubs would be re-energized, or established, in educational institutions all over the country. “We want to catch them young before they are injected with the poison of corruption”, Patrick Sandi said.

When about 10 years of age Sia Adetumah Tuma Essan grows up she would certainly win many beauty competitions with her chiseled features. The about four feet tall  Sia, a  Class 6 pupil of the Roman Catholic Primary School, on No 1 Liberia Road in Koindu, Kissi Teng Section, in Kailahun District, was given the honour of making the formal speech to the ACC Commissioner. Hear her words: “Corruption is one of the poisonous elements in the development and stability of our society.  Corruption is a challenge to even the Free Quality Education. It undermines the security of the state, peaceful coexistence in families, jeopardizes sustainable development…”

The cerebral Ben Kaifala who in his childhood had served as an “altar boy” to Catholic priests in the Catholic churches  he  would weekly attend would not miss the import of Sia’s words: “I want to thank President Bio who in his wisdom has given us this MESSIAH, Francis Ben Kaifala…  You are fighting a just and genuine cause… (You) are making tremendous success…(You) alone cannot go into this fight…. I am calling on all Sierra Leoneans to support the process”.

This messianic halo expressly and implicitly put over the head  of Ben Kaifala by the words, and raptured gaze, of thousands of pupils was embedded in the lyrics of a song  by a joint-school choir: “The future of our children lies on you, Ben Kaifala… After God, we now look up to you, Ben Kaifala… With you, we’ll work together to make Mama Salone a better place…”

The excitement, the pride, of the people of Kailahun District in welcoming their “son, brother, uncle”, Ben Kaifala, was palpable in every town the ACC team went to in Ben Kaifala’s

home district of Kailahun.  In Daru, when Ben Kaifala called out to one  of the teachers who had  taught him in Class One and Class Six at the St. Mary’s Primary School in his land of birth, Ansumana S. K.  Kamara, the joy that radiated from  the teacher’s face at seeing his former pupil now a giant on the national stage was tear-inducing.

Ben Kaifala who would call himself a “messenger” of President Maada Bio repeated these message: “You have poor schools; poor health centers; bad roads… it is because of corruption”. Ben Kaifala would crow over the successes of the ACC since he took its helm: a spike in the rankings of Sierra Leone in Transparency International, Afro-barometer, and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC) standards. Ben Kaifala has been made Chairman of the West African Anti-Corruption Agencies; and a  Board Member of the African Union (AU) on Anti-Corruption.

And this: President Maada Bio is among the first set of speakers to speak at a special session of the United Nations on corruption, and how it undermines political  stability, and sustainable development, so that the United Nations Convention Against  Corruption will be given more teeth. “That reflects the success of the ACC in the War on Corruption”, the ACC boss pointed out.  Ben Kaifala would not forget to tell the pupils that because of the 81% score Sierra Leone made in the United  States government’s MCC Control of Corruption Ranking  in 2020 (up from 49% in 2017) Sierra Leone is now eligible to earn the MCC’s Compact Programme of $400,000,000! The pupils would cheer!

With such strong support from the children and youth who are the majority population in the country (and the real power that would vote in, or vote out of, power any president, parliamentarian, or councilor) Ben Kaifala has to be more robust than he has been to sustain his support among this vital children/youth constituency.  He has to strategically continue kindling the idealism and faith of children and youth. Ben Kaifala has to act  prophet-like … a  “Messenger”.

 BUBLIC RVIEW SPORT

Sierra Leone Elects New SLFA President

The Sierra Leone football association (SLFA) has elects Thomas Daddy Brima as the newly president for the Sierra Leone football association.

 On another development the newly elected President of the Sierra Leone Football Association (SLFA) Thomas Daddy Brima and Former President Isha Johansen made a surprise visit at the Siaka Stevens Stadium.

The movie of the visit is  to witness the match between East End Lions F.C and Mighty Blackpool FC on Sunday evening. Mr. Brima returned to Freetown this evening after his election on Saturday at the Wusum Hotel in Makeni City.

The outgoing SLFA President and FIFA Council Member and Thomas Daddy Brima, newly elected SLFA President Thomas Daddy Brima made a symbolic visit to the fully packed Siaka Stevens Stadium.

The euphoria was one that resonates unity, love and optimism for the beautiful game. The incoming President is grateful to his predecessor and looks forward to build on her development trajectories and legacies for the growth of the game.

Very soon Madam Isha Johansen who will officially take up her office as FIFA Council Member in Zurich uses this opportunity to see off football fans at the Stadium.

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