A reality check in the last decade of education in our beloved Sierra Leone between Alpha Wurie and Minkailu Bah.
The factors of production are land, capital, machinery and human resource. The most important factor of the production line is human resource, without human resource, the land cannot be utilised for either farming, construction or whatever it is to be used for.
Capital cannot be invested to bring in the much needed profit without human resource and also the machinery cannot be bought and operated without human resource. So there is no denying that human resource is the most important factor of production.
Countries that have attained development know that it has been down to their improved education in human resource to turn things around and change the status quo.
China some 20 years ago was never considered an economic power because education in China was very low – less than 50%. Today more than 80% of all Chinese are literate and productive. The middle man power that is viably needed in the country is more than available in every sector of production to give the country its present status.
Sierra Leone will never develop if we fail to improve on education as no country has ever succeeded without human resource. If we take a look in the last decade of our education we will see that we have mixed results due to the personalities that have been in charge of this very important ministry.
Sierra Leone has one of the lowest percentage of literacy in Africa and that has been the main cause of our under development, but the former education minister Dr Alpha Wurie implemented some viable education projects as well as coming out with some quality policies to enhance the country’s educational capacity.
These projects were moving in the right direction, some had already been implemented successfully like the Sababu, Girl child education, and others were in the pipeline and we were hoping that after 2007 there would be continuity with these projects to better the lives of our students and youths that will in turn have a positive effect in the country.
After 2007, most of these projects were either abandoned or revisited to the detriment of the nation. Today the improvement the country should have made in education has taken a blow and the figures can speak for themselves.
I would want to do some reality check between these two ministers who hail from the same universities where they have lectured for years in the engineering and the science department. Both of them I think are of the same tribe but they differ in mind and spirit.
I would like to start with Alpha Wurie who in the last 10 years was in that ministry for six years. Alpha Wurie is a man I will say is a visionary, innovator, intelligent, respectful, smart, astute and handsome. He is a respected family man and who when in charge of the ministry listened to the public to make changes where necessary.
Alpha as he is fondly called in his time as education minister can be described as a success. His visions led him to start the compulsory Girl child education, the Sababu project that built so many schools all over the country and others were repaired. These schools were not only built but they were furnished, teachers were employed and ready to start operations.
He was always in dialogue with teachers and lecturers because he knew about the classroom, he averted strikes and attempted to curb the violence of cults and clubs in university campuses. He was always ready to listen to the parents and try to understand their concerns because he knew that improved education in the country means a developed Sierra Leone.
Alpha was an orator, he can articulate very well and was not pompous and proud. He was a very good administrator, a very good lecturer, an excellent business man and a respectable father. Those who knew him at the time of FBC will prove me right how he made most of them what they are today.
In short Alpha was taking the education of Sierra Leoneans very seriously because he knew that only educated Sierra Leoneans can turn the country around. He was representing a political party who based its philosophy on education. If we go down memory lane we will find out that most of the party’s heirachy were educated elites right down the line to present day.
The SLPP party believes in education that is why since independence they have never misused our youths by turning them to killing machines or drugging them to do all kinds of dangerous things to their own people.
Alpha never cared of tribe, region or party, he did all he could to improve and change lives during his tenure as education minister. Most girls that were refused schooling enrolled in schools all around the country, uniforms, books and food were supplied to encourage these kids to go to school so they can help improve our country.
Even his name ALPHA is of quality and it cuts across both Christian and Muslim religion. In Christianity it means the ‘beginning or first’. He is a devout Muslim and has a well respected and happy family.
At Regent, he built a science college that should have served as a very good laboratory for the entire Western Area. Schools would have made use of these facilities to do their practicals on regular basis and the proceeds would have been used to replicate it in other regions of the country.
Today that wonderful project has been abandoned and the three buildings are now being squatted on.
Our education was heading in the right direction until September 2007 when we had a change of government and another lecturer from FBC in the name of Dr Minkailu Bah took over the reins.
Dr Minkailu Bah took over from his colleague from FBC and I am sure Alpha made notes and a good handing over to Bah so he can continue the success story.
On taking over, the first thing he said was the education ministry has lots of ghost teachers so he is going to investigate. Although the result is yet to come to light, but it was alleged that after finishing the investigation he had more teachers on his list than what he inherited from Alpha.
That was the beginning of the destruction of our education in Sierra Leone. Suffice it to say he was appointed education minister and passed parliament. Well, he took over the education ministry and has been at the helm for four years now. Since he took over the Sababu project is almost dead, girl child education is a thing of the past schools fees have increased, he said education is expensive so parents should be prepared for that, but his government has increased the cost of living, increased poverty and frustrated teachers to the point that almost every month there is a strike in his ministry.
The Millenium Development Goal on education that we had hoped to achieve come 2015 is now bleak because of the wrong policies of this new minister. Every sector of the education ministry has problems, these are problems that in the first place should not have occurred but because of the kind of person heading the ministry most sectors have lost confidence and these people are not surprised anymore from the minister’s decisions.
When the lecturers were on strike few weeks ago, instead of him talking with his colleagues to settle the matter he started accusing them of politics and he will never seat and talk with them, how naive can he be. This was a man who four years ago was in that same institution, but as the saying goes “e fodom nar wata en turn fish”.
This fellow has reversed the trend set by his predecessor and there is no end in sight.
It was embarrassing and disappointing to us all when the news came out that university exams had been cancelled or suspended due to lack of paper; very disgraceful to a government that has the president whose only higher education was at FBC and the Minister of Education who was a lecturer there. This means that this government does not prioritise education as very important because they would rather want to see most young men and women in ghettos where they will be serving them drugs and booze to cause destruction to lives and properties.
Today he has angered lecturers, teachers, students and parents all over the country and has overseen the considerable drop in standards of education in the country. But he is representing a party that has never taken education seriously in the past. The APC has turned many of our youths into drug addicts, killers, rapists, thieves and dregman.
Their policies have never been geared towards developing human resource that will improve the lives of Sierra Leoneans and the country. Since Siaka Stevens era the APC has been breeding thugs that they always unleash on the innocents and even when they were singing this is a ‘new APC’ it was no surprise that they showed their true colors when they destroyed, beat up and raped in the SLPP office.
This is what APC is known for. People usually get angry and say SLPP is a party that is proud, No!
These people are missing the point, SLPP has lots of educated people within; this can be manifested in the just concluded party candidacy election. SLPP believes in education for all so we can be productive to our families and country, we should not expect them to go to the ghettos and distribute pega packs and drugs, instead we expect them to turn the ghettos into a production line.
These have been the problems with Sierra Leoneans, because majority of us are illiterates we admire and support those who seat with us in the ghettos and gives us pega and ‘diamba’. We cannot develop our lives with such negative attitude and that is what Dr Bah and his party is working towards.
I want to say that if we can reverse the clock to 2007 I am sure many Sierra Leoneans would think differently and would vote for Berewa and SLPP, but we can’t, all we can do now is to discern the right from wrong, good from bad and evil, peace from war so we can make the desired change next year if we want to develop Sierra Leone sooner than later.
Let us remember that education is the most powerful weapon we can use to change Sierra Leone and a good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination to bring success in any endeavor we undertake.
In conclusion I would like to end with a quote from the great Nelson Mandela who said “Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that a son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of a farm worker can become the president of a country.