Headline, May 31 2022/ EDUCATION : ''' '' SIERRA LEONE SIRENS '' '''



SIRENS '' '''

ON THE WORLD STUDENTS SOCIETY : SAMDAILYTIMES. ORG'S READERSHIP Sierra Leone rounds off the very bottom. Let me tell you how it will be in the next decades. Not one in a hell of a chance!

MY HEART BROKE FOR A GIRL, ADAMSAY, 13, whose mother died this school year. As a result, she can't pay the fees - so she is flogged in front of the class, five strokes each time on the behind.

OVER SEVERAL DAYS of interviews in half-dozen randomly chosen villages, almost all the children and parents I spoke to said that they were subjected to some kind of fee : school fees, book fees, lunch fees or admission fees.

At nearly every rural school, students said they were flogged for falling short on fees.

IN SIERRA LEONE : ON THE FRONT LINE OF AN EDUCATION REVOLUTION. A brilliant girl - a determined country and a model for how to make education more equal.

MAKENI - SIERRA LEONE : An exasperating parent might be forgiven for wanting a daughter like Alimatu Sesay, a highly motivated 16-year-old who can't afford schoolbooks but borrows them from wealthier classmates and studies the text outside every night with a flashlight because her tiny home is crowded and has no electricity.

Alimatu is one of seven children, her dad died years ago, her mom is illiterate and she herself sometimes must go without eating all day when money is tight.

But she is a brilliant student on a path to fulfill her dream of becoming a lawyer because of an education revolution underway here in Sierra Leone. [ And when she becomes a lawyer, she says, she's going to buy her mom a house.]

In 2018, the government here banned school fees, which had kept Alimatu's parents and millions of others from attending any school at all. 

The authorities have also outlawed corporal punishment in schools and ramped up investment in education,with more than 20 percent of the national budget allocated to teacher pay, school renovation and other education expenses.

The result has been a 50 percent increase in enrolment and also an apparent improvement in the quality of education, with impoverished children benefiting the most.

Sierra Leone may offer a model for how even a very poor country, still recovering from an Ebola outbreak in 2014-16 that followed a particularly brutal 11-year-civil war, can by sheer determination and leadership make schooling more equal.

The United States and other countries could learn a thing or two in the ramshackle schools of Sierra Leone.

Yet Sierra Leone's grand experiment is promising ''free quality schools'' is also maddeningly incomplete.

Alongside a rural road in northern Sierra Leone, I spotted several children doing farm work on a school day. I chatted with them, and it appeared that one reason they skip school is that they are regularly caned on the behind in front of the class for failing to pay the fees.

Caned? For failing to pay schooling fees in the public school system? Isn't that illegal?  Issa, 16, shrugged. ''I'm afraid to tell the teacher it's illegal,'' he said. ''I'd be thrown out of school.''

I'm on my annual win-a-trip journey on which I take a student - this year it's Maddie Bender, a recent graduate of Yale to look at global problems and fixes.

Education has been a focus this time, for some 60 million children worldwide should be in primary school but aren't, and even more miss high school.

Sierra Leone is tackling educational problems in ways that are bold and promising, but the pronouncements in the capital haven't reached Issa's village. A school official will come to the classroom, he said, call the children who are behind on fees to come forward and whip each of them in front of the entire class with six strokes of a stick.

OF the 52 students in his class, 24 or 25 are beaten each week for being behind, he said, girls and boys alike.

''Some kids cry,'' he said, adding. ''The beating is to make them persuade their parents to pay the school fees.''

Issa's younger brother, a primary school student, said he too was beaten regularly for not having money for school fees. Of the 35 students in his class, about 15 are routinely whipped for being late in paying, he said.

Next I visited that boy's primary school, where officials denied they charged school fees or beat pupils. the denials were unconvincing, partly because each teacher had a cane on the desk.

In Issa's high school, I ran into the same implausible denials undermined by more canes in plain sight. I talked my way into the administrative office and was allowed to examine a register that children had told me was used to determine who would be flogged.

Sure enough ; The book listed each child and whether he or she had paid fees a bit more than $3 a term.

In my conversations with perhaps a dozen teachers, a couple did admit in a roundabout way to charging students, presenting it as the only way to pay staff when government funding is grossly inadequate.

Samdailytimes.org will continue with the publishing of this very important post. The World Students Society thanks most profoundly author Nicholas Kristof.

With most respectful dedication to The Global Founder Framers of The World Students Society - the exclusive ownership of every student in the world - and then Students, Professors and Teachers of the world.

See You all prepare for Great Global Elections on !WOW! - for every subject in the world : wssciw.blogspot.com and Twitter - !E-WOW! - The Ecosystem 2011 :

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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