“Upholding integrity is fundamental not only to achieving learning outcomes but also to restoring the prestige of the country’s education system.”_ This statement was made by Peter K. Abdulai, Assistant Director, Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), Bo District, in a sensitization meeting organized by the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) Southern Region Office.

The engagement was held on Thursday 8th September, 2022 at the MBSSE Conference Room, Baima Road in Bo, and in attendance were; representatives from the Ministry, Sierra Leone Teachers Union, Teaching Service Commission, Conference of Principals for Secondary Schools, National Council of Head Teachers and civil society organizations.

Mr. Abdulai said the engagement was considered as a continuous professional development platform which avails them the opportunity to engage in a frank conversation on some of the challenges faced in basic education system and also to proffer ways of addressing them in their respective institutions. He commended the ACC for setting up Integrity Management Committees in Ministries, Departments and Agencies (MDAs) as they help to address systems weaknesses in these MDAs and appealed for such structures to be replicated in schools.

Speaking at the meeting, ACC’s Senior Public Education Officer, Abdulai Saccoh, acknowledged the continued resolve demonstrated by some teachers and school authorities in making sure that the school environment is free from illegal practices. Mr. Saccoh said that illegal practices in schools are among the factors responsible for the decline in the standard of education in the country. He recognized that despite the huge resources the education sector continues to attract, the desired objectives would be farfetched if the sector is inundated with illegal practices. He said that the ACC is not oblivious of some of the challenges faced by schools and teachers, but advised them not to be tempted to compromise their integrity.

The Senior Public Education Officer called on the MBSSE to continue to embark on robust monitoring exercises of schools and ensure defaulters are punished for their actions. He called on Teaching Service Commission (TSC) to adhere to the correct processes and procedures in the recruitment of teachers; and principals and head teachers to intensify their supervision of teachers, and take appropriate actions when necessary. _*“CSOs should continue with the monitoring of the implementation process of the Free Quality Education and report to the appropriate authorities where they discover issues of concern”*_ Saccoh concluded.

Public Education Officer, Mohamed A. Kabba, said upholding integrity and professional ethics is important for rebranding the image of the education sector. He recognized that school authorities have a critical role to play in shaping the behavior and attitude of pupils. Mr. Kabba said the desirable changes can only be achieved when they exhibit high degree of moral rectitude. He admonished the participants to serve diligently because their action today determines the future of this country.

In her statement, ACC’s Public Education Officer, Yangie .D. Sesay, said that the Commission continues to engage education stakeholders to ensure that everyone contributes towards the transformation of the education sector. Miss Sesay further stated that the meeting was also intended to remind partners of the various regulations guiding their work and to also forge alliances with them to curb illegal practices in schools. She emphasized that a country’s progress is determined by the education of its people and that is why it should be prioritized. She called on them to institute measures to eradicate corruption within the education sector in the country.

Participants called on Government to ensure timely disbursement of school fee subsidies and commended the Government for its strides to ensure quality education in the country.

# Courtesy of Public Relations Unit, ACC.