By Foday Moriba Conteh
The Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education in collaboration with the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) has on Thursday 9th March, 2023 held a one-day stakeholder engagement on education outcomes with journalists from various media houses in the country. The one-day engagement was held at the Phonso Complex, Ogoo Farm, Goderich.
Addressing the gathering, the President of the Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ), Ahmed Sahid Nasralla, commended the move by the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education to hold the one-day stakeholder engagement on education outcomes with journalists.
He said that the engagement is a product of SLAJ’s initial meeting with the Ministry when the two institutions discussed areas of collaboration and engagement in order to see how the media can contribute towards the development of the educational sector in the country.
Ahmed Sahid Nasralla described journalists as the gatekeepers and that they have a key role to play towards supporting the work of the Ministry, adding that the media should not be considered as a channel of information dissemination but said the media can be a reliable partner in development.
He informed that over the years the media has contributed tremendously towards nation building of which he said the media was very supportive during the Ebola and Corona outbreaks and during other national emergencies in the country.
The President said that the engagement will serve as a beginning of a long-lasting relationship with the Ministry of which he urged journalists to see it as their own responsibility to support the Ministry.
On his part, the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education, Dr. Monina David Sengeh, described the stakeholder engagement with journalists on the aforementioned issue as very significant in terms how such could help in enhancing the work of the Ministry.
He further stated that the engagement created a platform for both the Ministry and journalists to discuss the gains the Ministry has made over the years and on areas that the Ministry should improve on more going forward, which he said will enable the Ministry to prioritize impacts.
The Minister used the opportunity to inform pressmen of some of the achievements made so far, of which he informed pressmen that the Ministry has placed a ban on corporal punishment in all schools across the country including privately owned schools, adding that the move to introduce the anti-corporal punishment initiative in schools was to promote positive disciplinary methods and to effectively reinforce the ban on the practice of corporal punishment in all schools nationwide.
He said that the Ministry has also implemented the National Policy on Radical Inclusion in Schools, which according to him, seeks to ensure that schools in Sierra Leone are accessible to all children, in particular those children who have typically been excluded or pushed to the margins, adding that the policy is driven by a vision of justice and equity for Sierra Leone and the imperative that education is critical to reducing cycles of poverty and breaking down all stigma around disability, pregnancy, or parental status.
Dr. Monina David Sengeh said that the Ministry is aware that there are problems, issues and challenges but added that over the years they have consistently build the institution’s infrastructure in order for the Ministry to easily identify those problems, issues and challenges and further address them.
He called on journalists present to help the Ministry in bringing out the issues related to the education sector, which he said, will help them to take action geared towards addressing those issues.
Climaxing the ceremony was a question and answer session during which time journalists present asked critical questions on education outcomes in the country.