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Sierra Leone News: Teacher attrition affecting education on Sherbro Island

Bonthe Secondary School

Bonthe Secondary School

Teachers need to be at the centre of educational reform but the Sherbro Island of Bonthe district is currently facing a serious case of teacher attrition. Teachers are leaving the profession, which puts education at risk. Without paid, qualified, competent teachers, children suffer… and the country suffers in the long run.
The acting Principal of Bonthe Secondary School, Mohamed M. Robinson says the attrition rate is seriously affecting them. “With the shortage of staff, since I took office in 2014, I have forwarded lots of documents and over ten letters have been written to the Ministry and we were hoping that they would respond.”
He said that whatever little is coming to the school is being spent on part-time teachers. “We have a staff strength of eleven teachers with pin numbers and eleven that are not on payroll,” he said.
Principal Robinson went on to say that these part-time teachers have completed their courses and their certificates were forwarded but the Ministry has kept sealed lips as they don’t know what is happening.
“We have been fighting for them as they are trained and qualified. The best we can do is to take them on a part-time basis as they also serve almost all the secondary schools here.”
His school has 132 boys and 154 girls and they run three streams of arts, commercial and the sciences. The participation of girls in the sciences is not encouraging. “Some girls perform well but we have a lot of constraints on the island especially on personnel in the sciences.”
Commenting on the issue of the high attrition rate of teachers, Alhaji Abu Thoronka, Vice-President of the Sierra Leone Teachers Union (SLTU) said that with the low retention rate and very high attrition that’s contributes to the unhappiness of
the teachers in the classroom. “The salary is very low, backlogs, subsidies are not paid, promotions are not made, so all these factors contribute to the low literacy rate in the country.”
Joseph Cobinah from the National Education for All Coalition (NEFAC) said that some teachers are leaving because they have the feeling that they are not secured. “Some of us taught for nine months without being approved, late salaries, and no pin code.”
During the budget debate in Parliament recently Hon. Francis A. Kaisamba (SLPP) of Constituency 010 in Kenema district said that education in the country is currently in a big mess with all sorts of malpractice affecting the sector. “The huge number of teachers not approved is a serious concern and the Ministry has been running after ghost teachers for so long. We want them to tell us about the status of employment of teachers over the years and the number of ghost they have discovered, we want to know?”
ZJ/11/11/17
By Zainab Joaque
Monday November 13, 2017.

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