Taking the cue from the Speaker of Parliament, Hon. Sahr Paul Sam representing Coalition for Change (C4C) party said the initiative was laudable. He added however that government should be sure that schools are not overcrowded with pupils at the start of the new academic year, which is just three months away and should also ensure that teachers are sufficient and well-paid for them to be effective and efficient.
“It is too early to criticize President Bio’s free education agenda. There are many goodies in his speech about education but we should consider whether all the supporting infrastructures and funding structures have been put in place for the flagship free education programme to succeed. We should also consider how monies to support and pay qualified teachers, supervisors would be accrued while the provision of enough classrooms to accommodate the children in all areas of the country is also paramount.” These were words in the opening statement of Paramount Chief Member of Parliament (PCMP) from Tonkolili District, Hon. P.C Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sank III.
Chief Bai Kurr went on to state however that: “We should graciously thank President Bio and hold him accountable to deliver all what he stated to us. He will not deliver if Sierra Leoneans do not give him the necessary support and we do hope that he can deliver. As Sierra Leoneans on both sides, we should hope that failure should not be an option for him; backwardness should not be considered for him. We must be thinking about how to build the nation as Rome was not built in a day. Let us all continue to build the nation now and not to criticize.”
On his own part, Hon. Sam representing Constituency 025 in Kono District told the House that existing school structures and the dearth of qualified teachers means that schools would not be able to accommodate any significant increase in admission of pupils. He went on to say that there are 52 schools and 156 teachers in his constituency and that only eleven schools were approved out of that number and that for teachers, only 51 of them were approved by the Education Ministry.
He added that there are more community schools in his constituency than government-assisted schools and urged the government to look into these issues and bring more schools onboard if at all the free education flagship programme of President Bio is to succeed in his district.
All People’s Congress Member of Parliament, Hon. Abdul Karim Kamara, representing Constituency 59 in Kambia District, said Sierra Leone would experience a new beginning if the ruling government recognizes the good deeds of the previous regime. He added that the current government should work very hard to instill discipline, as there is an increased indiscipline among the citizenry across the country.
He said: “We cannot move to a New Direction when people are roaming about the street breaking poor market women’s tables; relocating people from their original residences even when elections are over and government is yet to make a statement on the issue.”
He said that the recent attack on the Freetown Mayor, Yvonne Aki-Sawyer, is a testament of indiscipline still prevalent among some youth.
He recalled that President Bio had stated in his speech that his new administration would review key ‘failure projects’ implemented by the previous administration. However, according to Hon. Kamara, “if those projects had failed, then the new administration could be heading for failure.”
He called on the government to restore the youth farm as the ‘New Direction’ is committed to supporting the youth albeit this is yet to reflect on the number of ministerial positions given to youth.
“The youth are not satisfied with deputy minister positions. The ‘New Direction’ does not have a destination as to where they are heading. The new Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs deserves more than that as he worked very hard for the party to win elections,” he said.