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Sierra Leone News: Teaching materials are inadequate

Teaching materials are inadequate and cause a lot of problems with the education system in the country, according to the Vice President of the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU), Alhaji Abu Thoronka.
A recent report from UNESCO has said that teachers unions across the world have said that they have not been consulted on the development and selection of teaching materials.
Thoronka agreed, they have never been consulted by the Ministry of Education on learning materials development. “We should be part of the process because we deal with the teachers and they know the standard of the pupils in the classroom, so we should be part of the process to develop those materials.”
He said that if they are involved they will be able to monitor the use of the materials by the schools. “We only hear about materials being supplied to schools, sometimes they are not even enough.”
He said that when people talk about developmental education they refer to the government as they are responsible directly to improve education. “If the government is not committed to education it will fail, the teachers have their own way also to improve.”
Teachers should not be blamed for systemic problems in the education sector as highlighted in the report. “Some of them do not get the incentives or motivation, the problems they have will not allow them to perform well in the classroom. If they are well motivated they will do their best as we have very good teachers in this country,” said Thoronka.
The poor standard of the education globally does not rest squarely on the shoulders of the teachers, but the government and the parents to some extent.
The report says that teacher sanctions based on student test scores or evaluations are increasingly popular, but have
multiple negative consequences for instruction, learning and equity.
In his reaction to that, Thoronka said that it is indeed wrong for teachers to be blamed for the poor performance of a child. “Appraisal is very necessary as it helps to know the capacity of teachers and their performance in the classroom.”
Generally, he said the national teacher appraisal system is not working as monitoring. The performance appraisal system they introduced was very good but he said it is not working effectively.
Responding to a concern by a principal in one of the schools in Port Loko district, where other schools were accepting pupils from his school after they were asked to repeat, Thoronka said that it is the responsibility of the teachers to help promote education in the country as they have a critical role to play in the life of the children.
He appealed to heads of schools to conform to the laid down principles in admitting pupils from other schools. “If you have to accept that child, accept the child as a failure, if not it will hinder the child’s development and that child will not even pass the stage he/she has been promoted to.”
He said that it is a very serious concern and they will engage heads of schools during their meetings to adhere to best practice. “They should request the necessary transcripts or transfer documents from the previous school the child is coming from, or even put a call through to the head of that school to enquire about the conduct and performance of that child.”
Several calls and messages were sent to the Public Relations Officer, Brima Michael Turay, of the Ministry of Education. There was no response from the Ministry of Education.
By Zainab Joaque
Monday October 30, 2017.

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