On Tuesday 18 October 2022, Africell Sierra Leone commenced the reopening ceremony for St. Luke’s Junior Secondary School at Wilberforce village in Freetown. The occasion was graced by Her Excellency Dr. Mrs. Fatima Bio, as the keynote speaker. The ceremony started with an opening prayer by Rev. Fr. Col. Desmond S. Lebbie.
By Moses Kay Fembeh
Several representatives from government institutions such as NaCSA, the Ministry of Education, the Armed Forces Technical and Education College (AFTEC), and private institutions such as Africell Sierra Leone, the Press, Parents, and Well-wishers.
Madam Elizabeth Cole, not her real name, was the chairperson of the occasion; in her opening remarks, she applauded Africell Sierra Leone, First Lady, parents, and parishioners for making it possible to actualise a dream that had passed two decades, and she described the ceremony as historic. She gave a brief background of the name “Saint Luke”. “Today indeed is a historic day for the Catholic Diocese of Freetown, there would have been no perfect day than the reopening of St. Luke’s Junior Secondary School, a school that is named after St. Luke who was an educationist, a writer, one of the writers of the gospel and a doctor,” she said.
She furthermore said, “At Luke, this is the day the Lord has made, that we should be glad indeed. For several years now we had a dream to establish a secondary school, but our founding father, priest Francisco and with the help of all the parishioners helped to build a primary school at the time. After several years of consideration, the council of parishioners had another dream to build a secondary school, and the name suggested was to be named St. Luke’s Model Catholic Secondary School but this dream was not materialized for several reasons, Her Excellency and all present here, God has time for everything, this year 2022 is a remarkable year for St. Luke’s Junior School to be opened today. St Luke is with you, Bishops and all present we want you to take this school as your baby, ” she remarked.
The declaration of the purpose of the gathering was done By Rev. Vincent E. Davies, who first started with opening greetings starting with our First Lady and all that representatives and called a few names of distinguished persons, such as Archbishop Edward Tamba Charles the proprietor of the school, who was not present. Rev. Davies said, the proprietor had an unavoidable engagement to attend and was deputized by Rev. Fr. Dr. David Kamanda, he also recognized Mr. Shadi Gerjawi of Africell Sierra Leone, Mr. Edwin Kamara of NASSIT, Mr. Peter Komeh representing Sierra Leone Road Authority (SLRA) and everyone gathered. “To the education committee, the school reformation has been in operation and line with the free quality education since 2018 under the ticket of his Excellency Dr. Julius Maada Bio, and the Ministry of Basic and Secondary School Education (MBSSE) has made good progress, but there is more to do as the education has already lost its value to our social life and the pandemic, we believe in the government desires that every child must be educated through the free quality education. We should also ensure that our children are taught in schools by well-trained and qualified teachers, and the school should be a free territory where learners meet to learn positive things about life and community so they, too, can become the true future leaders we crave. We should compass sound knowledge in them. A school that shall create for quality learnings, and the government should add more value to the sciences, Commerce, and humanity,” he said.
Shadi Gerjawi, the Managing Director of Africell Sierra Leone, during his short statement, thanked president Julius Maada Bio and the government for seeing education as a valuable tool for human capital development. He also thanked the St. Luke’s Junior Secondary School administration and the teachers for their profound sacrifices made and continuous support.
Col. Richard Bockarie the Director of Studies at the Armed Forces Technical and Education College (AFTEC) also thanked everyone and encouraged parents to send their kids to both St. Luke’s primary and junior secondary school, and there will be an initiative that will help them to monitor parents that are in the Barracks to encourage their kids to study; she talked about other facilities that will help the kids to learn.
Her Excellency Mrs Fatima Bio gave the keynote address; during her speech, she also stood on the existing protocol by thanking and appreciating everyone for their timely sacrifices. Furthermore, she admonished religious leaders to be careful with the kind of sermons they should preach to people. It could not be a sermon of hate speeches and they have a role to play in their communities and that role is to help minimize rape and early teenage pregnancy. So, the girl child can become educated and responsible, but if her right to education is abused for a petite bride price, she cannot sustain a family of five for a day. She also encouraged parents to send their children to school and make sure that they (girls) are prevented from rape as “It is better to prevent rape before waiting for justice,” she said.
The cutting of tape was done by the First Lady, Mrs Fatima Bio of the Republic of Sierra Leone, and the inspection of the school building was done by her and Dr David Kamanda, followed by the gathering. The vote of thanks was done by a class 5 pupil of the school
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