By Foday Kamara (Leoneboy)
I did an article few months ago on the alarming rate at which education in Sierra Leone has been dragged down at the hands of Sierra Leoneans in authority and the general citizenry. The result was insulting from ruling party puppets and other villains of our country in disguise of patriots.
The fact remains, I will continue writing; this time not asking the government to take action because they will not, but letting others know the seriously of the issue and probably stand out as real patriots and resolute citizens to stand out and defend a name the country has branded as 100 and more years ago.
Coming to the issue at hand; the release thousands of undeserved results from the last West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE). It is no secret that this year’s result released does not portray the performance of many of the candidates, as they have proven for the past days through their posts on Facebook. Not even the greatest of fools will believe a candidate who genuinely scored C4 in English Language will write “Am very happy 4 my result am make am very very happy”, and even those Who have no idea of the difference between Mathematics and Further Mathematics will believe a candidate genuinely scored A1 in Further Mathematics and yet got D7 in General Mathematics- my uncle often said “if you cannot carry a goat, you cannot carry a cow”. With all what is known, we only hope WAEC comes out and say honestly that discrepancies occurred somewhere along the line. But will they?
The problem starts before the exams and continues during and after the examination. Some of us who suspected a rotten system followed up and knew exactly what happened, but you never can report the prostitute to the pimp. During the examination period, examination questions were all over social media platforms especially WhatsApp chat groups-makes me wonder where they come from when WAEC shows innocence the time the topic of examination malpractice comes up. One could certainly say that their cry of examination malpractices been rampant is just a mere shedding of crocodile tears because when people who are concerned were busy raising alarm of the malpractices prevalent, all they could do was to issue clueless press statements and never take any serious actions to curtail them.
The irony is that these same officials who were busy sharing the release from WAEC, where the same officials who were busy collecting Le.250, 000 from candidates at examination centers for what they referred to as “special halls”. The known secret is that once you are in any of these “Special Halls”, you are free to even carry text books or use your phone to access the internet and nobody can arrest you. As if that was not enough, the same exam officers release examination questions to people who can afford to buy them before the examinations start. With all what we are seeing, I wonder whom WAEC tries to impress with their bogus releases and press statements.
The reasons for the calculated malpractices in the WASSCE still remains a clear mystery understood only by few of us very focus and keen on the issue. It originated from the way WAEC treats their staff and external examiners even though this might not be an excuse for them engaging in the habit of malpractices and bribery in the examination. When examiners mark papers (which they do on contract), they are usually not paid on till the other years, and yet they continue to mark papers for WAEC. Every sensible will wonder the reason why they keep marking these papers when WAEC often fail to pay them.
This reminds me off a common krio slogan of the Siaka Stevens regime of Sierra Leone in the 70s “Usai u tie cow, na dae e dae eat”, which, means the cow graze where it is been tied. If the teachers who mark the papers are not paid what they deserve and the time their money is due them, they have no option but to find ways to pay themselves by collecting money from candidates and give them undeserved grades- (still not opinionating that examiners should collect money to compensate for their pay).
With all this happening, one is left to wonder what the government is actually doing to better the current situation in their educational policies. The answer is they are aware, but not ready act. The worst is that they also fight individual and institutions trying to find ways to better the situation and at least discourage candidates from engaging in Malpractices. One such is the case with The University of Sierra Leone which decided to be conducting a general entrance examination for applicants before admitting them into the three constituent universities including IPAM, FBC and COMAHS, but the Minister of education in a press release stopped them from doing it. The entrance examination to some extent proves to the university if candidates merit their results. This has been the reason why the Mass Communication department of Fourah Bay College has always stood out when it comes to admitting students. At the time I applied there, out of 400 and more students who applied with good grades in English Language, only around 120 of us passed a very simple English entrance examination conducted then to show that many do not merit these results they apply with.
In conclusion, I would say things are bad and there seems to be no hope for of getting back on the right foot in a short while. The reason is that, WAEC top officials do not listen to government and the government as well does not act as we expect, not to talk of supporting others in fighting the menace. As such many citizens take advantage of the situation and enrich themselves. But I am asking real patriots and resolute citizens to just join the fight and let everyone know the issue.