By Foday Moriba Conteh
As part of their efforts towards advocating for the implementation and adaptation of the National Policy on Radical Inclusion in Schools in the country, OneFamilyPeople in collaboration with partner organizations and with support from Liliane Fonds has on 27th July, 2023 concluded a one-day Stakeholders Roundtable Engagement on Advocating for the Implementation and Adaptation of the National Policy on Radical Inclusion in Schools. The a one-day Stakeholders Roundtable Engagement was held at the Sierra Leone Peace Museum on New England Ville in Freetown.
Speaking during the ceremony, the Program Manager for One Family People, Samuel P.O.V Macauley, said the National Policy on Radical Inclusion in Schools was developed to ensure that every student, regardless of his or her background or abilities, has access to quality education with the aim of promoting an inclusive education system that recognizes and accommodates the diverse needs of all learners.
He said that the one-day stakeholder’s roundtable is geared towards advocating for the implementation and adaptation of the National Policy on Radical Inclusion in Schools in the country, adding that the roundtable brought together stakeholders from the education sector, including policymakers, school administrators, teachers, parents, and students, to discuss the benefits of inclusive education and strategies for implementing and adapting the policy in schools.
Samuel P.O.V Macauley maintained that the engagement provided an opportunity for stakeholders to share their experiences and ideas on how to effectively implement and adapt the policy in schools, noting that One Family People is with the strong conviction that stakeholders present have been empowered to work towards creating a more inclusive education system that benefits all learners including Children and Youngsters with Disabilities.
He said that it is expected that after the engagement participants will have a better understanding of the National Policy on Radical Inclusion in Schools and its benefits, discussed strategies for implementing and adapting the policy in schools and identified challenges and opportunities for implementation and also developed a roadmap for the effective implementation and adaptation of the policy in schools.
The Deputy Director ,Ministry of Basic Secondary School Education, Sahr Sylvanus Kebbie, commended One Family People and partners for holding the Stakeholders Roundtable Engagement on Advocating for the Implementation and Adaptation of the National Policy on Radical Inclusion in Schools, which he described as very important towards enhancing inclusive education in the country.
He said that the National Policy on Radical Inclusion is the heartbeat of the Ministry and it was because of the commitment of the former Minister of Basic Secondary School Education, David Moinina Sengeh towards the implementation of the National Policy on Radical Inclusion in Schools he was award as Best Minister in the World.
Sahr Sylvanus Kebbie said that before this time, the 2004 Education Act did little or nothing to actually see how those with disabilities could be encouraged in schools so they can seize to become liabilities.
He however, said that the new 2023 Education Act unlike the 2004 Education Act makes clear provisions on inclusive education. He informed the gathering that the Radical Inclusion is saying that all schools should be inclusive and disabled friendly and that the Ministry is encouraging schools that are not disable friendly to work towards making their schools disable friendly in order to enhance inclusive education in the country.
The Social Service Officer at the Ministry of Social Welfare, Edson A. Kamara also used the opportunity to commend the One Family People and partners for the engagement on inclusive education.
He said that the issue about the inclusion of persons with disabilities in education is very important and the Ministry has been working in ensuring that persons with disabilities are seen as partners in development.
Edson A. Kamara said that when it comes to inclusive education there are critical areas that need attention and these areas include accessibility, entitlement and collaboration. He called on all to ensure that these areas are addressed in order to enhance inclusive education in the country.
Other stakeholders including the Accreditahun Officer, NCTVA, Komba Moiua, Senior Economist at the Ministry of Finance, Moses Gbateh, PRO Tertiary Education Commission, Roland B.C Jones, Technical Assistant, MoPED, Pumda Konneh, the Focal Person for Disability Desk at the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education, Ellalyn Yasmine Koroma, Principals and Head of Schools also made statements.
Closing the ceremony was a presentation on the state of Inclusive Education in Sierra Leone and Recommendation on how it could be improved etc. by Mohamed Fofanah which was followed by panel discussions by stakeholders on inclusive education.