MBSSE, Stakeholders meet on the guidelines for school approval and use of school subsidies.

By Augustine Sankoh, Strategic Communications Analyst, MBSSE

The Leadership of the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE) has held a day meeting with MBSSE personnel in the districts, the Teaching Service Commission, Paramount Chiefs, Parliamentarians, Local Council authorities, Sierra Leone Police, Anti-Corruption Commission and other stakeholders in education to discuss the guidelines on the approval of schools and the use of school subsidies.

The meeting took place on Tuesday, 21st June 2022 at the Bintumani Hotel in Freetown.

“We want judicious use of the school subsidies. Over the past four years, the subsidy paid per term has risen significantly from Le 30.1 Billion to about Le 60 Billion in the last term. We think that some of these monies have not been going for the purpose they are meant; that is why we call people so tell them how the subsidy should be spent,” according to the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) Coordinator Mr. Amara Sowa.

He said after the workshop, school authorities should not have any excuse for the misuse of school subsidies, noting that that is why they invited the ACC, Audit Service Sierra Leone, Ministry of Finance and the Sierra Leone Police because these are institutions that normally hold them (Ministry of Education) to account and they should be part of the rolling out of the guidelines.

The Director of Planning and Policy in the MBSSE Mrs. AdamaMomoh corroborated what was said by Mr. Sowa, adding that some schools are using almost all the subsidies to give allowances to board members and paying of teachers that are not on payroll.

She said there are also schools that are claiming to have a certain number of pupils which is not true, just so that they can have more subsidies.

In her keynote address, the Deputy Minister l Mrs. Emily K. Gogra calls on her audience and every Sierra Leone to prioritize the education of their children, adding that regular visitation of schools will keep the teachers on their toes and also increase learning outcomes.

He commended stakeholders present for the gains made in education thus far and called on them to keep working hard.

According to the School Approval Guideline, there are two levels of School Approvals: level One approval which is authorized to operate as a school which is required for all schools and all school types, and level two approval which are eligible to receive financial support.

Schools must have Level One Approval before applying for level two.

A Level One Approved school becomes eligible to submit a Level Two Approval application after one full school year of being a Level One Approved school.

Private schools are not eligible to receive Level Two Approval, and would have to change ownership type.

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Day Break Column

Thursday 9th June, 2022 there was fuel shortage across Freetown. 100s of commercial vehicles, kekeh and commercial motorbikes (okadas) were in queues at various filling stations finding ways to get their tanks filled. 

Some concerned citizens told this medium that fuel regulators are planning to increase fuel products to either Le 18,000 or Le 20,000.

Kekeh and commercial motorbike riders are not helping the situation; they have been overloading and over pricing commuters.

Some commuters especially WASSCE candidates who were rushing to exams hall for Mathematic, and average business persons did not have a choice but to succumb to the new price from the Kekeh riders and motorbike riders.

Barracks old Road motorbike riders have been demanding Le 7000 from Sierra Leoneans to take them from Shell Old Road to Upgun, and Kekeh riders are demanding same for the same destination.

Only few Poda podas were on the road yesterday morning. 

100s of other commuters in Waterloo and Jui junctions werepatiently waiting for vehicles to take them to their various destinations. 

On the flip side, the few Poda podas on the road had been engaging in overloading and exploiting commuters. They were asking them to Le 5000 from Jui junction to Texaco and Shell. The current government price from Jui junction to town is Le 3,500 and from Bombay Street to Waterloo Le 5,500 but unfortunately majority of the drivers and conductors (apprentice) were demanding Le 6000 yesterday. Vehicles plying Water to Bombay were stopping halfway (Jui), charging Le 5000. They always take advantage of the situation, exploiting poor citizens. 

The reason for the closure of some filling stations across Freetown was not clear but it is believed it’s because of the imminent increase in fuel price.

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Internews School- Female Teachers and Pupils on Digital Safety

 

 

By Moses Kay Fembeh

The Safe Sisters Fellowship (Internews) in collaboration with the Women and Girls Initiative in Sierra Leone, has held a training session on digital safety for female teachers and pupils on digital safety at Baptist Convention Primary School,Gloucester village, Freetown. 

Four primary schools with a total number of 28 people attended the first ever digital safety training.

Ms. Christiana Sagba is a member of Internews- Safe Sisters Salone. She is also the Founder and Director of Women and Girls Initiative Sierra Leone, established on 11 October, 2018 with the aim of giving every girl and young woman an opportunity to be strong, confident and physically fit for socioeconomic drive and other empower benefits. 

Delivering her keynote address, Sagba urged teachers and pupils to serve as agents of positive change, saying they should put into practice every information giving to them to keep them safer from internet fraudsters who come around pretending to be lovers.

She further spoke on the reason for the digital safety training for female teachers and pupils: “Our Sierra Leonean women and other women in Africa are sometimes bullied by the men in society and therefore, if any man or stranger sends a friend request and eventually message to date you, you have to be extra careful”.

The Founder and Director of Women and Girls Initiative Sierra Leone told this medium that the digital safety drive will not only be limited to the Gloucester community but will be taken to other parts of the country. “We are seeking for fund to foster this initiative nationwide”, she said.

She continued by saying that women and girls must be careful not to send their naked pictures to social media boyfriends and not to give their passwords to others for recharge or megabytes, adding that women and girls should not use simple password numbers or letters. “The essence of doing this is to save you and your personal information including bank details and private conversations”, she noted.

Head teacher of Baptist Convention Primary School in Gloucester Village, Mrs. Safinatu appreciated the digital safety initiative, thanking Ms. Christiana for her philanthropic ambition. She promised that they as Community stakeholders will work together to make sure the initiative continues in the community where pupils and teachers would serve as ambassadors. 

Felicia Moseray a class six thanks Ms. Sagba for the digital training and also promised that she will help sensitize her peer group on the positive and negative use of the internet. 

One of the participants from Church of Christ Primary School,Janet Dumbuya promised that she will deliver what she has leartn during the program to her fellow teachers and pupils to help spread the good news.

Admonishing parents, Ms. Sagba said parents should be best friends to their kids. “There must be open communication among them, and parents/guidance must stop letting their kids watch Nigerian & Ghanaian movies”.

She recommended cartoon and other kids’ movies, adding that “kids must be kids, our kids should use the internet for educational materials, not for pornography or other harmful things that have the tendency to endanger their future”, she ended.

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HRCSL Staff Trained on Gender Sensitive Dimensions

HRCSL Staff trained on Gender Sensitive Dimensions 

With support from the United Nations Development Programme and Irish Aid, the Human Rights Commission of Sierra Leone (HRCSL) has trained new staff in gender sensitive dimensionsof the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.

The training at the Civil Service Training College, Tower Hill on Tuesday 7th and Wednesday 8th June, 2022 was spearheaded by the Directorates of Gender and Children’s Affairs and Business and Human Rights and Labour Relations. The aim was to strengthen the capacity and knowledge of staff to handle gender issues in business and human rights.

Director of Gender and Children’s Affairs, Madam Gloria Bayoh, described the training as timely and important as new staff were able to understand what the United Nation’s Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, especially in relation to gender sensitive issues is all about.

She urged participants to make good use of the training by putting into practice the knowledge gained.

 

Also, Deputy Director and Head of Business and Human Rights and Labour Relations, Abdulai Yollah Bangura said it is the first time the Commission is organizing training for staff on business and human rights in relation to gender issues and therefore urged staff to take it seriously.

“This training is to make us understand the trending things in the regions, especially those connected to businesses,” he said.  

Presentations during the second session include; Women’s Rights and SGBV in Companies and Host Communities by the Chairperson; Madam Patricia Narsu Ndanema, Understanding the Business and Human Rights Ahenda and UNGPs by Head of Business and Human Rights Directorate; Abdulai Yollah Bangura, Mechanisms for Monitoring Business andHuman Rights in Sierra Leone by the Executive Secretary; Joseph Kamara and Categories of Rights Affected by Business Operations by Moses Massquoi.

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Sumaila Town Resident blast EDSA

Energy Minister, Alhaji Kanja Sesay

The residents of Sumaila Town have expressed their utter dissatisfaction regarding the manner in which the Electricity and Distribution Authority (EDSA) is distributing electricity. 

Reports say the community has gone 14 days without electricity with no one saying anything about it.

Residents say they last had electricity on May 28th, 2022. Since then, they say the community has been dwelling in complete darkness, leaving them in deplorable conditions.

Momoh Kamara, one of the residents, expressed his disappointment over the current situation, calling on EDSA to act like a sober institution.

“Why is EDSA behaving like this? For two complete weeks they have deprived us from electricity. Aren’t we citizens of Sierra Leone? Why have they chosen to treat us this way? We are honestly not happy with them. All our food go bad because of this annoying blackout,” he said.

This medium has learnt that residents of Sumaila Town have suffered from attacks by thieves at night; some even lost their personal effects as a result. They say the entire community is unsafe at night because of the consistent blackout. 

Marian Senesie, a mother of two, told this press that her children find it difficult to study at night because of the blackout. “The one who’s currently taking the WASSCE Exams uses candle to study, which is not healthy for his eyes,” she explained.

She called on EDSA to step up by doing the needful. “I believe EDSA are just too wicked. Why are they not giving us light? Why are they not saying anything to us? They are not doing us any favour because we are paying for it. This is the worst institution in Sierra Leone”, angry Marian lamented.

Councillor Augustine L. Bangura has on several occasions called on authorities to solve the electricity challenge his community is facing but to no avail. 

Sumaila Town, situated back of Winners Chapel Church, has been deprived of constant electricity for several years and residents have been asking, but they haven’t been given any answers.

We reached out to the EDSA Public Relations Officer, Sahr Nepor, for response but has refused to comment on this very important issue.

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UN Resident Coordinator calls for reflection on conditions of detention.

 

 

 

United Nations Resident Coordinator Babatunde Ahonsi has encouraged senior-level staff of the Sierra Leone Correctional Service (SLCS) to reflect on the conditions of detention and the complaint mechanisms available for the detainees in corrections centres across the country.

 

Mr Ahonsi made the call on Wednesday at the opening of a three-day training for senior-level staff of the SLCS on Conditions of Detention and Human Rights at the Radisson Blu Hotel in Freetown.

 

The RC said that during his various engagements with the highest authorities of the country, including the office of the Vice-President, the need for the UN to support the capacity building of the staff of the SLCS often emerged. Therefore, he described the training as timely and hoped that it would contribute to staff development and the reform of the correctional service that the government is undertaking.

 

According to the UN Resident Coordinator, “the programme of the training is adequate as is the calibre of the facilitators involved, from the SLCS, the UN, the Human Rights Commission of SL, the Legal Aid Board and civil society organizations”. He noted that participants would also discuss issues including the rights of persons deprived of liberty, roles, and responsibilities of correction officers and, security and management of correctional centres.

 

The RC underscored the UN’s belief that all people, regardless of their backgrounds, have rights and responsibilities to fulfil their potential in life and lead decent, dignified, and rewarding lives in a healthy environment. 

 

“None should be left behind in this journey to achieve the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development,” said Mr Ahonsi, adding that the training will contribute to the achievement of various sustainable development goals (SDGs), specifically SDG 16 – promote peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, provide access to justice for all, and build effective, accountable, and inclusive institutions at all levels.

 

In his welcome remarks, Acting SLSC Director-General, Mr Ahmed Turay, said he was deeply honoured that 30 senior officers of the SLCS were partaking in the training. He said this would strengthen the knowledge and skills of officers to perform their duties with the human rights of inmates in mind.

 

The Acting DG said the SLCS Act of 2014 lays a premium on the recognition of the rights of inmates irrespective of the crimes they have committed. Noting that human rights are directly reflected in the SLSC’s mission statement, he assured partners that the Correctional Service is willing, ready, and able to utilize the training opportunity as it will enhance his officers’ ability to effectively and efficiently manage correctional facilities.

 

Delivering the keynote address on behalf of the Vice President of Sierra Leone, Dr Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh, Minister of Internal Affairs Mr David Maurice Panda-Noah said that it was fitting that such training is organized for Corrections officers to remind them once more that they are under obligation to uphold human rights principles, especially in the dispensation of their duties.

 

Minister Panda-Noah underscored the importance of Human Rights for Correction Officers when one takes into consideration the value it will add to the SLCS and the country. “It will provide them with the psychological tools, the requisite knowledge and skills, and the right attitude to perform their duties in accordance with national and international laws on the treatment of persons deprived of their liberty,” he emphasized.

 

United Nations Country Team in Sierra Leone Senior Human Rights Advisor, Christian Mukosa, said the training aims to enhance the knowledge and skills of senior staff of the SLCS on the rights of the detainees with a focus on prisoners with specific needs, including women, juveniles, persons with disabilities and foreigners. He added that participants would discuss and produce an action plan to implement the various human rights principles and recommendations from the training during these three days. 

 

Over the next three days, senior-level Corrections Officers will be exposed to human rights principles of good prison management, prohibition of torture and other cruel, inhumane, or degrading treatment or punishment, women in detention, and prevention of gender-based violence in correctional settings, and pre-trial prisoners and legal assistance to persons in detention, among others.

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