By Zainab Joaque…..
An audit has identified that there is no policy or guidelines for the effective implementation of the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) Program by the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE).
Even though the Presidential Declaration of the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) has taken two years, the Audit Service Sierra Leone (ASSL) review of the implementation of the FQSE programme in selected schools in the Western Area revealed that Teaching and Learning materials (TLM) were supplied to local councils without guidelines or policies for their distribution and handling.
It also found that there was no equal distribution of exercise books to all pupils. In some schools, pupils were given four, five, six or seven exercise books as the case may be, and some of the schools lacked storage facilities to properly store the TLMs. Books were found in the open and on the bare floor; some were even covered in dust.
Besides, some core textbooks (Integrated Science and Social Studies) received by schools were not distributed to pupils, but rather being held up in cupboards and in boxes. In their interviews with principals of these schools it was revealed that there was no clarity from the Ministry on the use of these books; some of the principals perceived the books to be distributed to every pupil whilst some considered them as resource materials for the schools since the books were not enough to be distributed to each pupil in their respective schools.
“Due to the lack of adequate data on school’s requirements and enrolment, some pupils were not supplied with core textbooks (Mathematics and English Language). Interviews conducted with the Coordinator of “Leh We Lan” project (the European Union’s contractors for the procurement and distributions of core textbooks) revealed that the data used for the procurement of core textbooks for the junior and senior secondary schools were based on the 2017 school census report. This was far below the enrolment into schools after the declaration of the FQSE in 2018” the audit revealed.
The Auditor General recommended that the coordinator of the FQSE in consultation with other key stakeholders in education should ensure that policies and guidelines are immediately developed for the effective implementation of the FQSE.
The MBSSE Management however failed to submit official response or act on the recommendation. Therefore, the issue remains unresolved.