SIERRA LEONE CELEBRATES 30TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE UNITED NATIONS CONVENTION OF THE RIGHTS OF THE CHILD.
FoRUT in collaboration with the Children’s Commission, the Ministry of Gender and Children’s Affairs and other Child Right Partners celebrates the 30th Anniversary of the United Nations Convention of the Rights of the Child on 20th November at the Bintumani Conference Centre.
School Authorities, pupils, Officials of Government Ministries, Department and Agencies and His Excellency President Julius Maada Bio graced the occasion. The President in his key note address encouraged the children of Sierra Leone not to take part in any form of examination malpractice. ” I will hold a conversation with you (pupils) to come up with solutions on how to tackle examination malpractice”. Says President Bio. He also lamented on sexual violence against children, teenage pregnancy and increase in school violence especially after sporting hours which he said is unacceptable.
The Chairperson of Child Rights Coalition who is also the Executive Director of FoRUT and Co-Founder of Exceptional You Foundation, Mrs. Boi-Jeneh Jalloh moderated the Children’s interface and discussion program with the Government Ministers and some key Child Right Activists. The celebration was climaxed with the President’s tour to Partners’ information booth including FoRUT’s. The President was excited to learn about FoRUT’s work on alcohol, drug and development. “So our children are having unrestricted access to Alcohol, it is unfortunate”. Remarks President Bio.
Pupils accessing resource materials on Alcohol, Drug and Development from FoRUT information booth
ENHANCING STAFF’S EMPLOYABILITY SKILLS IN WORKING WITH TEACHERS AND OTHER EDUCATION PERSONNEL
The Sierra Leone Education Partners’ Network (SLEPaN) which have a common donor called Rockdale Foundation comprises five Non-Governmental Organizations that complement the Government of Sierra Leone quality and accessible education initiative. The network’s members are National Youth Awareness Forum (NYAF), Defence for Children International Sierra Leone (DCI SL), Pikin-To-Pikin Movement, EducAid and Foundation for Rural and Urban Transformation (FoRUT).
The network partners conducted a training of over 50 of their staff on employability skills in Port Loko District between in August 2019. The specific objective of the training was to strengthen partner staff’s capacities to effectively work with teachers and other education personnel in complementing the Government of Sierra Leone’s role in providing quality and accessible education for the children of Sierra Leone
The training session were divided into two central parts – Project work and Workshops. The Workshops were sub divided into self-led workshop and team driven workshop. The Project Work focused on improving staff’s skills on website development, online magazine publication, creating and editing videos and audios, developing podcasts and proposal development. The team driven workshop aimed to strengthen participants’ skills in communication, word processing, proofreading, podcast design, Google Drive Management, Google forms management, Positive Attitude, data management, creating workplans, Problem solving, excel, research and working in an international environment.
The self-led workshop essentially focused on improving staff’s skills on photography, critical thinking, Canva Design, Proposal writing, the nutritional and physical aspects of healthy body healthy mind, social media, toxic masculinity, power points and Global Teacher Award.
It was a thrilling and incredible learning venture. We are excited that our staff as well as other partner staff’s capacities are strengthened to effectively work with teachers and other education personnel in improving quality and accessible education for the children of Sierra Leone. A special thanks to #RockdaleFoundation for funding the training.
Sierra Leone Muslim Congress Secondary School Gets a Multipurpose Building
FoRUT handed over a newly constructed multipurpose building (MPB) to the Sierra Leone Muslim Congress School administration at Kissy Mess Mess in Freetown. The building will be used as safe learning and fun space where pupils and teachers will host activities to reduce harm from alcohol and drugs among school children. Mrs. Rebecca Swaray, a board member FoRUT, chaired the handover ceremony. In her remarks, she reaffirmed FoRUT’s commitment to promoting alcohol and drug free environment around schools and leisure areas, which enables children, all things being equal, to focus on their school work, behave well and score good grades. She mentioned that alcohol and drug abuse is one of the anti-social behaviors young people are indulge in the country.
Mrs. Kadie Jackson handing over keys to the building
Mrs. Kadie Jackson, who represented the Board Chair of FoRUT, handed over of the building to Dr. Sheku D. Gassama, Chairman of the Board of Governors of the school. Mrs. Jackson explained that FoRUT takes a development and rights-based approach to addressing alcohol and drug misuse among children. Dr. Gassama thanked FoRUT for the wonderful offer and promised that the school will use the facility for its intended purpose. Other stakeholders that attended the event were the Deputy Director General Inspectorate of schools Ministry of Education, Science and Technology (MEST) Western Area Mrs. Nanah Bockarie, Chairperson Sierra Leone Alcohol Policy Alliance (SLAPA) Mr. Ibrahim Kamara, pupils, parents, and teachers of the school. The school administration is normally responsible for providing suitable sites for the MPB as well as their up keeping.
Newly constructed Multi Purpose Building
Unpacking and Tackling Tribalism – the 2018 post elections task ahead
Let’s face it, the runoff elections between APC and SLPP has deepened an old political wound that has never really healed, and was unfortunately irritated by the dynamics of the 2018 elections. The decision to elect our leaders has largely been based on traditional party loyalties that go with strong ethnic and regional affiliations. The March 7 elections result speaks so loudly. This situation seems to dominate the political psyche of both the politicians and the citizens. The two new political parties – the National Grand Coalition (NGC) and the Coalition for Change (C4C) succeeded in taking advantage of the same ethnic affiliation even as attempts to make the elections campaign policy-based, which has been to encourage citizens to vote Salone – vote in the interest of the country.
You never overcome anything until you confront it. Bitter it may be, the truth is, tribalism exists in Sierra Leone both in its latent and patent forms. To overcome it, we must confront it in a systematic way that goes far beyond the usual rhetoric that is all over the media. There is a popular narrative that government has, over the years, denied some Sierra Leoneans the right to equal opportunity, and fair and equitable treatment in employment simply because of their party affiliation which invariably is based largely on ethnicity. Similarly, some, if not most, politicians and citizens alike from one side, would normally dismiss constructive criticisms and genuine reactions to national issues that come from fellow compatriots who are on the other side or perceived to be. They also have the tendency to withhold objective assessment and the truth that uplifts the other side. One key enabler to this phenomenon is the gross lack of accountability in leadership. Leaders set the tone in executing their duties and therefore impact on the culture of the institution or nation they lead.
Why has this old wound of tribalism, almost cancerous in our country, been irritated? First, the March 2018 elections have drawn the lines. Politicians, and we who support them, go to great lengths to outsmart and outplay the other. Unfortunately, the winner in Sierra Leones’s elections often takes it all. The stakes are therefore quite high. These are neatly concealed in the last card of the game, which is ethnicity, and which manifests itself in the voting patterns. Therefore, appealing to kinship affiliations in the form of tribalism is the simplest, readily available and yet deadliest weapon of the political battle. More expensive, complicated and demanding is the weapon of ideas and ideologies that are articulated in policies. And this is real hard work, both for the politicians and the citizens to begin to think differently in a country where the following expressions and responses to voting for a party abound now: ‘Nar im ar bon mit nar mi family’ (that’s how it has been in my family), ‘e don cam pan cam, we dae go bak wusie we comot’ (push has come to shove, we are going back to our roots).’
My appeal therefore is not to put tribalism under the carpet, and pretend that a group of unpatriotic citizens are being malicious with hate speeches and campaigns during this period. We, both leaders and citizens alike, use tribalism/ethnicity always deliberately as a front for many things: to get what we want that we may not necessarily deserve, to distort good judgment that question wrong decisions and behaviors, to solicit unwarranted solidarity and support for selfish ends, and seek/enjoy the comfort and prestige that comes with affiliation/connections, and to lure others into believing that we seek their interest. We need to unpack this big animal, remove the camouflage, and deal with the issues it covers up. Remove tribalism and what we see, is the struggle for undue control of resources and exercise of authority/power, impunity, misplaced social standing and self-preservation. The biggest challenges to our nation’s development are undue control of resources and exercise of authority/power, impunity, misplaced social standing and self-preservation.
The defining post elections task of growing our democracy and advancing Sierra Leone’s development agenda rests in harnessing the power of the people for the greater good.
- Until we confront this destructive national dishonesty that tribalism does not exist, we will remain latently divided in many ways, and this may threaten our national identity and cohesion in the long term.
- Until we sacrifice instant gratification and resist self-seeking motives/desires we will not seek and have lasting solutions that will build the future we so desire.
- Until we consistently and persistently think and act beyond our boundaries and strive to leave no one behind, we will not build a just, unified, and prosperous nation.
- Until we understand, embrace and use the power we have as a people to demand accountability and good governance irrespective of whatever affiliation we have with our leaders, our leaders will continue to manipulate us and follow their own agenda, instead of the agenda of the people.
- Until we accept the truth, and speak the truth a little louder, persistently and in agreement, without fear of the future, even in the ballot box, we will continue to deserve the leaders we elect.
Rarely will political leaders alone lead and sustain change. It mostly springs from people with great courage of conviction to defend a cause for humanity and build a future, free of injustice and impunity. When the politicians and citizens alike realize, among other things that leaders can account for their reckless decisions, including use of citizens resources, the people can restrain the exercise of authority and power of leaders irrespective of ethnic affiliation, and that our humanity is bound up in others, the lethal weapon of tribalism we now hold so close to our chests, will begin to lose its potency in our very hands.
Every step to build an enduring Sierra Leone counts.
- Vote for those burning issues that upset you, and keep you awake when you should be thinking about great ideas or sleeping. Vote your conscience!
- Commit to building a better future that embraces everyone after elections. Think Sierra Leone!
- Seek the common good, and join actions for social justice. You are not free, you are not protected, and you are not prosperous, until everyone else is. Act Sierra Leonean!
And to our political leaders, I join one of Sierra Leone’s great heroes, Sengbeh Pieh to say, “All We Want Is Make Us Free.”
A concerned citizen and Executive Director, FoRUT