Freetown, SIERRA LEONE – In a bid to enhance the quality of education by ensuring sanitized and efficient classrooms, the Teaching Service Commission (TSC) has announced a new requirement for teachers in Sierra Leone. Teachers must undergo a licensure examination, including proficiency in Information, Communication, and Technology (ICT), before being issued a teaching license.
This directive has triggered a wave of conflicting interests and unrest among teachers in both Freetown and the provinces. The assessment, mandatory for all teachers, irrespective of their training, qualifications, or experience, has raised concerns about its alignment with professional standards.
To qualify for the national license, the TSC stipulates that teachers must possess an active email account, a certificate from an accredited teacher training institution (not older than six months), any higher certifications earned, National Identification Card (ID), Nassit ID (if applicable), and a passport-sized photograph. Notably, the insistence on ICT proficiency has been met with resistance, particularly from older teachers who did not have exposure to computers during their initial training.
Mr. Steven Moigula, a retired teacher in Freetown, expressed the disadvantage faced by teachers like him, arguing that this new requirement may lead to discrimination and a brain drain in ICT-specialized subjects. The ongoing discord might tarnish the reputation of teachers accredited without an ICT background.
Ibrahim Sorie Kamara, a qualified teacher at HTC Secondary, shared his perspective, highlighting the prevalence of untrained and unqualified teachers, especially in provincial schools. He emphasized the importance of the licensure exam, stating that it could serve as a security measure for teachers, ensuring an effective teaching process even in the absence of the teacher.
Sheka Tarawallie, a student at Milton Margai University of Science and Technology with HTC Secondary, praised the approach but criticized its timing, suggesting that it may lead to the replacement of qualified teachers in the classroom.
The government and TSC assert that the objective behind this initiative is to replace untrained and unqualified teachers, thereby reducing unnecessary government expenditures. The licensing exam is seen as a technical means of assessing and verifying teachers, creating room for trained graduates awaiting teaching positions.
In response to the controversy, the Teaching Service Commission Western Rural District has announced that teachers recruited between 2022 and 2023 within the district must undergo registration and licensing from January 30th to February 4th, 2024. As discussions intensify, teachers are left questioning the fate of those deemed untrained and unqualified after the licensure process concludes. AJ/9/1/2024