From the Editor’s Keyboard

Re-opening of schools in Sierra Leone: Another big challenge

By  | 22 January 2015 at 03:04 | 1713 views

I know a lot of people will be apprehensive about the re-opening of schools in our country just when we are beginning to witness the death throes of the dreaded ebola virus disease. I am one of them too.

I am apprehensive because I know my country quite well. Our problem has always been lack of speedy implementation of ideas hatched by ourselves and outsiders.

Most Sierra Leoneans, in my opinion, are brilliant with powerful imagination but a lot of them somehow lack the ability to get up and implement those ideas; they have to be pushed or threatened.

We saw that at the height of the ebola war when the President himself had to leave his office and virtually spend most of his time on the road, going around the country urging people to do the work for which they were being paid or to do what is right to save their lives. He sometimes had to threaten some people with dismissal!

I don’t know if this attitude is one of the legacies of colonialism; it might well be. It is a fact that colonialism and neo-colonialism nurture a culture of dependency and helplessness in the colonized.This is common in most countries the so-called developing world. In fact that’s why they are called "developing" countries.

I have watched since 2007 how President Koroma, a true visionary ( with his Agenda for Change and Agenda for Prosperity) had been frustrated left and right by Sierra Leoneans supposedly working with him to effect change in the country. Some of his lieutenants (I won’t name them for obvious reasons) of course share his vision and have done a great job while others have been......well, fill in the blanks.

Back to the school re-opening. I know of some serious Sierra Leoneans from all walks of life including government Ministers who have been running up and down in their home towns and villages, hundreds of health workers who had sleepless nights (some had died) as they bravely fought ebola with all their might. Now that ebola is almost gone, these guys must be exhausted and looking forward to some well deserved vacation or holiday.

But no, the President, being the enlightened thinker and leader he is (remember his innovative and successful lock downs?), is saying, no, we should not be complacent at this time until the enemy is vanquished totally and the country safely returns to normal.

He is saying let’s get our children back to school because a country without school-going children is doomed.

Well, my fear is some people, teachers, health workers, civil servants, international NGOs (some with back-breaking bureaucracies) might not step up to the plate fast enough to prevent a return of the disease in our congested schools, colleges and universities. That will be an unforgivable disaster.

We in the media in Sierra Leone and out of Sierra Leone should ensure that never happens in our country, especially to our children.

I would say this is round two of the fight against ebola. It is not over until it’s over.

You better put on your boxing gloves again.