Salone News

Education Minister wages war on Mafia Principals

By  | 30 April 2010 at 03:14 | 460 views

Sierra Leone’s Minister of Education Dr. Minkailu Bah (photo) has launched a crusade against a mafia-like syndicate operated by principals in some secondary schools in the country.

It has been discovered that some principals are taking advantage of government’s bursary to students taking school certificate exams. An investigation launched by the minister revealed that principals collect fees from students (even though government pays for them) especially those retaking exams and send their names to the ministry for payment.

It has been discovered that a total of seven hundred and fifty- seven million and ninety- five thousand Leones has been retrieved from the principals so far . In 2008/2009 academic year the ministry also retrieved fifty- five million Leones from the principals who extorted money from students taking public exams.

The minister’s crusade against corruption in the education sector has led to a dramatic decline in the number of ghost teachers ( teachers who are not employed by the ministry but whose names are on pay roll) and ghost students( students not officially admitted but attending school). This has dropped the ministry’s expenditure considerably. But observers say his crusade has not gone down well with those in the syndicate and there have been reports of plans to gang up against him.

The minister has also disclosed plans to establish a Youth Commission for the empowerment of youths but observers say those lobbying at State House for this job are not suitable people. Someone who professes to have knowledge in NGO operations because he had been operating an NGO alone is among those lobbying for this job.

Observers say President Ernest Koroma needs to rethink his strategies ahead of the 2012 elections. Mistakes made in his initial appointments should not be repeated or allowed to continue, they suggested.