Education Minister, David Moinina Sengeh has confirmed that government pays over five million Dollars as examination fees for children attending  public schools. The  Minister made this statement while reacting to some blackmailing allegations from Some Private schools.

The Minster today posted  that Checking the WAEC portal, as of today March 9th, 2022, 206,690 children have registered for the WASSCE 2022. Within the FQSE, every child in public schools can attempt these exams at no cost to their parents but at a cost of over $5 million to the Govt of Sierra Leone.  He pointed out that Government of Sierra Leone  has continued to expand access to public education every year and they continue to expand their budget as beneficiaries increase.  He confirms that they also see positive dividends as most children now transition into jobs and technical and higher institutions.

However, the Minister emphasized that there are about a dozen private schools (mostly in Western Area) who have failed to register about 2,700 students and are now running around trying to blackmail them in government. The Minister further reveals that the portal was open to private schools since November 2021 and closed in early February.

He confirms that two weeks ago, ”I also met with another set (all their principals lied to my face that they had paid on time but in fact hadn’t when I checked their payment slips). We had asked WAEC to open the portal for them which they did. Some had 9 candidates which they couldn’t successfully register. If a school in Falaba and Foindu can register their students via an online portal, I see no excuse for those here in Freetown to have missed these deadlines.”

He emphasized that this is also really about Parent Teacher relations. The Minister believes that If your child is in a private school, it’s a choice you have made to pay for their WASSCE fees. It is thus your responsibility to ensure that the school administration registers and confirms with you that your child is registered for their exams.

He emphasized that there are processes. Opening the portal again months after the deadline mean that they might risk not being able to print and bring enough papers for the rest of other students. They risk not planning for enough exam centers for  Sierra Leonean kids. Do you see how unfair this is to our children? That 2,700 children can hold 206,000 to ransom? the Minister asked a rhetorical question?

He further noted , that when he spoke to those set of private schools, none of them had released teachers to support the marking of scripts. So, here we have a set of people who want to use the system, then they delay the system, and then blackmail the system and then not contribute to it. How’s this fair? the minister asserted.

The Minister confirms that they are  not talking against all private schools. He reminded the Public that in this year’s GEM Report to UNESCO which he chair, He recognizes the role non-state actors play in education. In fact, He offered that his team provides training to private school teachers as well during COVID and they also deliver learning resources to them.  However,  the Minister pointed out that they have to call out those leaders whether in private or public schools who are not capable of managing their schools and providing quality education for Sierra Leonean children.

The Minister assures the public,  that as they approach examinations, they  will implement new mechanisms to ensure that the right pupils are taking these exams (we have heard stories of police men, nurses, etc all signing up to take these public exams at a cost to government). ”We will register all class 5, form 2, SSS 2 candidates in public schools through their NCRA National ID Number. When that process starts, it’s the responsibility of everyone to ensure that your kids are registered. Next year, if your NIN isn’t updated, you wont be able to take these exams!.”

He concluded that they will transform this sector. ”It will be painful. We will be called names but they have no choice but to ensure our children can all access quality education.”