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Public education on Public Education: Inclusive Rural Development and Politics

29 October 2021 at 17:38 | 816 views

Commentary

By Dr. David Sengeh, Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Sierra Leone

I had the privilege of joining the entourage of H.E President Bio last weekend as he toured communities in Kenema District. Beyond many tangible and valuable outcomes: he commissioned a community center; opened a university of STEM; opened an all-girls STEM center of excellence; toured the Dodo Dam; and got first hand experience from citizens about his human capital development projects. In the public meetings, the chiefs spoke about having exam centers for the first time since independence in their villages; the youth spoke about how they are harvesting rice from chiefdom farms; and the women thanked the government for radical advances in gender issues including the Gender Equity Bill, Hands off our Girls, and Policy on Radical Inclusion.

In Blama, I met with about 20 Principals where we engaged on tangible issues. They noted the impact of the result checker; the early release of BECE (first time since BECE started in 1996 that results were announced before school started); and then requested for more teachers on the payroll.

From those engagements with the President and my side meetings, it’s no surprise why Kenema District has risen to the top of the charts since our Free Quality School Education programme. E.g.
1. Kenema was second in NPSE in 2021
2. Kenema was first in BECE in 2021
3. Kenema won the Presidential National Best Teacher Award in 2021

A couple of people recently have been saying to me; "David, you are too political now. Leave politics to the politicians." These have been said as I shared my citizen engagement updates.

If understanding the needs of the people is what politics is...
If seeing the impact of our policies in the field is what politics is:

If being inspired along with the citizens by the President about the importance of HCD and protecting the environment is what politics is:

If sleeping in rural towns and getting stuck behind a truck on bad back roads in a convoy is what politics is:

If eating with local stakeholders and engaging people who had never ever seen a President or any Minister is what politics is...
If serving the people is what politics is:

Then yes, I have drank the juice. Because to me, my technical work is all of the above that is being defined as politics. So instead of telling me to stop being a politician, it might make sense to update your ideas of what it means to be a politician:

To me, being a politician is making cool glasses from palm leaves with a girl waiting to see her President:

Being a politician is engaging community teachers and Principals who have no stores to keep supplied teaching and learning materials:

Being a politician is to talk to an illiterate grandmother about the value of education to her grandkids:

Being a politician is to be inspired over and over again by the President of Sierra Leone about his commitment to transformational and inclusive national development.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sZgzm-co5IU

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