Over two hundred pupils attending a primary school in Kholifa Mabang Chiefdom, Northern Sierra Leone have not returned to school after authorities in the Chiefdom closed the school thereby depriving the kids of accessing the school building.
Weeks after schools have reopened, our medium uncovered that all of the pupils attending the Benevolent Islamic Primary School in Kumrabai Station – a strategic town in Kholifa Mabang Chiefdom where the school is located have not returned to school.
Parents and guardians who spoke to this reporter said they’re worried because it is almost a month since schools reopened and their children yet to attend.
“You can’t believe that our children have not returned to school for weeks after schools have reopened. No learning and teaching is ongoing even though some of the teachers are paid by the government,” a parent who want to remain anonymous said.
In Kholifa Mabang Chiefdom, exposing matters of this nature is considered risky, and therefore all of the parents spoke on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
This ugly development that has deprived their children, the parents said was because of an ongoing fracas between some members of the community and the Benevolent Islamic Mission.
After several attempts to settle the impasse between the community and the mission have failed the authorities in the Chiefdom, sources said, closed the school and handed over the keys to one of the chiefs.
“And as we speak, the school is closed, and the kids are not going to school,” an anonymous community member said.
For decades now, the Benevolent Mission has been in charge of the school in Kumrabai, until recently, when some community members decided that the Benevolent Mission be replaced and that the community take charge of the school.
Instead of the Benevolent Islamic Primary School that has existed for years, a cross-section of the community is suggesting that the school be called Community Primary School and that the Benevolent Mission must hand over the school to the community.
This disagreement, sources said, is what has affected the day-to-day running of the school, and also hampered learning.
Currently, a newly erected school is in the community but the children cannot access the building because of the ongoing conundrum.
When contacted, Abdul Bali Kamara, the Head Teacher of the Schol and member of the Benevolent Mission confirmed the parents’ assertions to be true.
Kamara said the ongoing impasse has not only affected learning but has also dropped the number of pupils in the school.
The new building was built by the National Action for Community Action (NACSA), but the Head Teacher said the building is currently not accessible to the pupils.
All of the classrooms, Kamara said, are presently locked and the kids are forced to use a dilapidated and old building. The matter, he said, is been reported to the Education office in Magburaka.
Meanwhile, the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary School Education (MBSSE) is yet to comment on the impasse.
Sallu Kargbo, Kholifa Mabang Chiefdom Regent Chief said, he was the one who ordered the school to be closed since both parties had not agreed to an amicable settlement.
As of the time of releasing this article, the pupils are still at home disadvantaged to return to school.