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Sierra Leone News: WAEC: Shape Up Or Ship Out!

A very simple adage says that the bad workman blames his tool. We do not want to say this for the West African Examinations Council and the Ministry of Education but it gives any patriotic Sierra Leonean great cause for concern that now every exam conducted by WAEC ends up with one scandal or another.
I have been listening to authorities at their wits end explaining why question papers for this year’s National Primary School Examinations (NPSE) were not enough and kids had to wait for others to finish their exams before they could take theirs.  What keeps grinding me inside is that fact that WAEC says they have an agreement with the Ministry that any pupil who shows up for the Exams in uniform should be allowed to take the examination.  Tell me; is this not the reason that some Heads of Schools did their entries as late as the day before the examinations?
Why is it that it is only when the damage is done that authorities go on air to make untenable and outlandish explanations and excuses. This happens all the time: when the rotten chicken was discovered at Bomeh and people were rushing to collect them, with police at their necks. That was when we were told that the said chicken were rotten but not expired! Can you imagine this! Back at the WAEC and Education Ministry, a year ago or so, so many pupils were refused taking the WASSCE exams because they had not passed the BECE exams. Yes the Ministry was right but the question is why did the schools not proactively avoid the pains of the pupils? Also some time ago some 54 schools were not allowed to take the WAEC. So tell me, what was the purpose of that stupid agreement that rubbishes best practices. Definitely the watering down of the regulations are contributing to the very low standard of Education our children are getting in this country.
At the time the President was splitting up Ministries I wrote preferring that The Education Ministry be split. It is too much burden on one ministry and minister even if there are several deputies. With all the Directorates and Commissions we are yet to get our moneys’ worth. There key elements of good governance are a healthy life; the acquisition of knowledge, and access to resources. Most times the level of poverty in a nation easily exposes the performance of the particular government. We are not saying that government should take spoons and actually spoon feed the people. No, but government should provide the enabling environment for people to pursue their livelihood options, participate in governance and in dignity.  I need to stress here that the acquisition of knowledge is of essence in any country.
The NPSE is the first public exams that our kids are exposed to. Bungling it just means that we do not care a hook about the future of our country. I really think WAEC and the Ministry of Education need to be more consultative and collaborative. Do not wait for things to go wrong and then go on air to give untenable and spuriously outlandish excuses. Do you know how many kids are going to fail due to delays in their getting the question papers? I think the Ministry of Education and WAEC should have the moral obligation to name the schools that failed to turn in their entries in time so that parents will think twice sending their children to such schools. So now what is going to be their punishment from the Education authorities’ standpoint? Schools and examination Bodies should run on set standards otherwise there may not be any reason for taking exams in the first place.
It is unfortunate that because our education is fraught with all sorts of scandals at all levels; there will come a time when our Certificates will not be honoured. A lot of our compatriots cannot of course afford to pay for education even in other West African countries. To even meet livelihood targets here is more than an uphill task. To me it is more than a national scandal that our children can be treated the way they were at a very important stage in their educational pursuit.
I think these are issues that the Sierra Leone Parliament and the presidency can actually get huge political capital in by taking some action on defaulters in this whole saga. We have gone through some partisan non democratic antics and we are not prepared for our children’s future to be frustrated. Can you blame the generality of the people to be apprehensive? Our government should be mindful that people sacrificed their blood for us to get democracy back to its feet and nobody should do anything to trip. As a nation, we are moving forward!
We all know that large portions of our society have gotten disillusioned because our oldest parties, having handled the affairs of this nation for zillion years are still struggling to deliver. They wish a new party can win elections and put both those parties in opposition. Well I hear voices saying that as it was in the begging are now and ever shall be. This is actually our real funeral as a nation. All the smaller dysfunctional parties are not yet ready to come together take over power.
Why do we have to trouble our primary school kids when we know that one of the greatest banes in our development as a country remains to be the high percentage of illiterate compatriots who have resigned themselves to fate and only pursue their hand to mot on daily basis and do not care a heck what happens in governance. Sadly enough even those who are literate hardly understand issues of state craft and thus cannot be concerned with conversations of national importance. This is our dilemma! Do you want our kids to join this group?
Like I keep quoting, “Legitimacy is…earned by leaders who possess the ability to communicate a clear vision for the country as well as policy choices and trade-offs they have done on the public’s behalf”
By Ben Cambayma
Wednesday May 31, 2017.

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