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Letter

Re: Public Schools in Sierra Leone Gasping for Life Support

Ahmad Kemokai, May 20, 2010

Re: Re: Public Schools in Sierra Leone Gasping for Life Support

Ahmad Kemokai
Monrovia, Liberia

Despite war, we are doing our best to cope.

I think Joy M. Hathaway is missing the point here. There is no way children are taught how to steal in Sierra Leone schools. Stealing is a crime, and I am not sure if there is any country or responsible government that would overlook or encourage such crimes. She served in Sierra Leone before the 11-year civil war, and everybody knows the nature of that brutal unrest. Schools were converted to rebel headquarters and therefore most of them were vandalized or burnt during fighting with Ecomog and government troops. After the war, we have not closed down schools despite the destructions and atrocities caused. We are trying and shall continue to improve the educational system.

It’s however true that there is evidence of corruption within the government, but there are positive indications from the fight against corruption. The Anti Corruption Commission is doing a good job.

The main reason the educational system is suffering today is the lack of infrastructure and school materials. Plus the teachers are not motivated due to irregular and low salaries. The system needs reform. The 6334 system is not successful due to the lack of vocational training schools. The double school shifts should also be eliminated. Students should have a reasonable school schedule that could allow them more time to help their families and also have ample time to revise their school.

We are blessed to be able to speak several local tribal languages, and that’s not a concern and does not have any negative impact on the educational system. Of course we need to study English and even French in order to catch up with the outside world, but that should not be detrimental to our culture. If tribal languages are not taught to our children, what do you expect in years to come? The answer is these languages will cease to exist. English language is not ours, not our mother tongue. We are proud of our tribal languages and our culture. That makes us who we are.

Despite war, we are doing our best to cope.

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