In his handing over statement, the Commissioner for the Northern Region, Bai John Conteh, underscored the need for the reintroduction of civic education into the school curriculum as he described the way in which the young are prepared for citizenship and how they learn to take part in civic life, particularly in a democratic society, as a growing concern.
Bai John Conteh noted that civic education was removed from the school curriculum since the late 1970s which has resulted in the low level of understanding and acceptance of the rights and responsibilities among citizens that is required for the maintenance and improvement of a constitutional democracy.
Elaborating on the concept and rationale behind Civic Education, Commissioner Conteh alluded to the lines of the National Pledge which reads: “I vow to serve her faithfully at all times, I promise to defend her honour and good name, Always work for her Unity, Peace, Freedom and Prosperity, And put her interest above all else”, as the spirit of Nationalism and Patriotism, noting that “this is what civic education is all about.”
In a bid to fulfill the Commission’s mandate on Civic Education, Mr. Conteh said the Commission has set itself a two prong approach, the top-bottom and bottom-top approach, in the case of the latter, the Commission is devising a strategy to enter the schools to begin the discussion around Nationalism and Patriotism with the young through the use of the national symbols.
He encouraged the authorities in the schools to form a civic education club that should consist of interested pupils, representatives of the community and senior teachers as focal persons to make conscious effort to preserve the materials.
The Eastern Region Commissioner, Alhaji Sheku Kamara, also reiterated the importance of educating the young about their civic rights and responsibilities and the need to instill in them the spirit of nationalism and patriotism. He noted that schools have a crucial role to play in ensuring that pupils receive the requisite knowledge to understand and appreciate their national values through the national symbols. He assured authorities in the schools that the Commission will be sending its Public Education Officers to be teaching pupils to understand the materials the Commission provided.
Representing the Ministry of Education Science and Technology at the commissioning of the flagpole gallery at the Ansarul Islamic Secondary School in Kenema, Madam Lucy R. Ngauja applauded the Commission for undertaking the project of reintroducing civic education into the school curriculum.
She assured her audience that the Ministry of Education is working in collaboration with the National Commission for Democracy to facilitate the process of reintroducing the subject into the school curriculum. She noted that the Ministry considers the initiative of reintroducing Civic Education into the school system as incredibly necessary. She encouraged school authorities to do justice to the materials provided them by the Commission and ensure that they teach and inculcate the values of nationalism through the national symbols in their pupils so that they will grow up to be patriots.
The Principal, Birch Memorial Secondary School, Makeni, James S. Jalloh, said that he is gratified that the Commission selected his school to be part of the first batch of schools to be offered what he referred to as an invaluable support by the National Commission for Democracy. He said the flagpole gallery and all the materials the Commission offered his school will be well utilized accordingly. He assured the Commission that his school will put the necessary measures in place, which will include the creation of a Civic Education Club, to adequately take care of the materials with immediate effect. He expressed the need for Civic Education to be reintroduced into the school system, saying that Civic Education will provide pupils the opportunity to learn so much about their country’s socio-cultural values.
The Chairman SMC, Tonkolili District Council Girls Primary School, Magburaka, Yaya Koroma, observed that the national flag symbolizes patriotism and will be used to inspire pupils to uphold the values of their national symbols and put the country’s interest above all else. He called on teachers to endeavor to teach their pupils about their national values and educate them about the need to love and protect their country.
The Assistant to the Acting Principal, Bo Commercial Secondary School, Cecil Williams, expressed appreciation to the Commission for selecting his school for the pilot phase of the project. He said the school will adhere to the guidelines provided by the Commission and take good care of the materials they have received. Mr. Williams observed that the Commission has embarked on a worthwhile initiative of bringing back Civic Education into the school system. He assured the Commission of his schools’ commitment in collaborating with the Commission.
In her vote of thanks, the Pupils’ Vice President for the Tonkolili District Council Girls Primary School, Zainab F. Kanu, thanked the Commission for providing them the opportunity to have a flagpole and civic education materials on their school campus. She assured the Commission that pupils will work in collaboration with the school authorities and community stakeholders to preserve the materials and ensure that they benefit from the materials they received.
The seventeen schools that benefitted from the pilot project include Kambia Islamic Secondary School - Kambia, Schelenker Junior Secondary School - PortLoko, Birch Memorial Secondary School - Makeni, District Education Committee (DEC) Central Primary School - Koinadugu, Tonkolili District Council (TDC) Girls Primary School - Magburaka, Wesley Secondary School - Segbewma, Methodist Secondary School - Kenema, Ansarul Islamic Secondary Schools - Kenema, Koidu Secondary School, Centennial Secondary School – Mattru, ICS Primary School – Moyamba, Bo Commercial Secondary School, Saint Paul’s Secondary School – Pujehun, UMSS Primary Cola Tree – Calaba Town, Huntingdon Secondary School, REC Primary School and Peninsula Secondary School.