Today’s second day of my unannounced visits to schools as part of the partial school reopening monitoring took me to:
– 2 Districts (Kenema and Bo)
– 5 schools (including 1 boarding, 1 girls secondary, and 1 girls primary)
– 1 Community college
– 2 District Education/TSC Offices.
I made the following observations:
1. Attendance is up to 90% in many schools. These are emergency times for health and learning. Our goal is to beat both at the same time. It wont be easy but we will. Thank you to everyone working hard to the story.
2. Parents and communities are supporting us as we seek to fight covid and also prepare our kids for exams. Nearly all pupils in each school had on masks either from home or alumni organisations. This will complement the 90,000 masks procured and being delivered (2 per pupil) for learners and teachers. Don’t wait for government, mask up. Use your creative practical arts, home economics, etc skills.
3. Teachers are heroes. The commitment and dedication seen in the field is phenomenal. Thank you for your service. In particular I’ll like to recognize Mr Sandi, aka Commissioner as he’s fondly called by his students. Comissioner is a biology teacher who had a tablet in one hand and a chalk in the other. He also was advocating for his pupils who couldn’t bring lunch to school. I could see that his students had a unique relationship with him. He represents the kind of teacher we want to see in the classroom. Full of passion empathy and leaning towards hybrid teaching methods.
4. School Management: two schools I want to highlight are HRSS Kenema and RC Madonna Girls Primary Bo where the compounds had no trace of dirt, pupils all fully engaged, over 85% attendance, group teaching etc. The Principals and headteachers are examples that we want want to see across our country.
After many hours of conversations
I have also noted the concerns of teachers who have been neglected for far too long. Many have served for over a decade and they havent been reassessed. Their qualifications haven’t been reflected in their pay. My engagements with Council of Principals, SL Teachers Union and other stakeholders were fruitful as we seek to resolve this issue. My administration and this government recognises the role of teachers and we will work to clean up and sanitize the system and then make it the noble profession that it is. The commitment of the Teaching Service Commission cannot be questioned. We are all in this together and we will come to an agreement.
I invite all parents and CSOs to join us in the ring to make this a year of excellence. Even in this health crisis, we will excel- that’s Resilience and I know SL is known for that.
Thank you to my staff at MBSSE who work round the clock to ensure that:
1. All schools have been cleaned
2. School feeding of all primary schools will happen
3. All pupils will receive 2 masks
4. All boarding homes will be fed
5. Teachers will be trained and well resourced to support our pupils particularly in the districts
6. Plus more…
Ps- thank you to Ministry of Health personnel for your continued collaboration. I was joined by the District Medical Officer Dr Grant on my tour. We are this together and this government will keep engaging and moving the needle bit by bit.
Pps- i must recognize my abled assistant, my dad Paul A. Sengeh who followed me to all these visits and put on his senior teacher hat by engaging his colleague teachers… once a teacher, always a teacher