No doubt, education in Sierra Leone has suffered tremendously both from systemic neglect and the ravages of a horrendous rebel war. Also, the old system was inadequate to meet the present needs of the country. The new system of education is, therefore, a welcome idea. The new system has a great deal of potential, which, if properly harnessed, will uplift the country.
The study of Sierra Leone and its languages and cultures will generate enormous knowledge about the Sierra Leonean society in general, as well as offer the opportunity to understand the philosophical, epistemological, scientific, and cultural underpinnings of the society, from which national development can spring. Building a body of knowledge about the country can foster self pride and patriotism. Also, the emphasis on the education of women is a giant step in the march towards progress; educating the women will tremendously increase the country's literacy rate, as well as its quality of life.
While schools and colleges sluggishly continue to operate in Freetown and Bo, schools and colleges in the rest of the country have been effectively shut down for many years now because of the rebel war. In effect only a very small percent of school-age children actually attend school. Even those who do often experience frequent interruptions. Thus, the positive ideas in the new system can only be fully realized if peace and stability return to that country. Because of the decade old war, it has been difficult to garner reliable statistics about education in Sierra Leone. Most institutions operate in make-shift locations in the capital of Freetown.
Another problem facing the new system is the dearth of qualified personnel to enhance the realization of the new 6-3-3-4 system. Most educated Sierra Leoneans have left the country to safer havens, so there is a dearth of teachers schools that are full of unqualified teachers. While the new system is promising, the conducive environment for the realization of its policies is absent.
Alie, J.A.D. A New History of Sierra Leone. London: Macmillan, 1990.
Framework of a National Plan of Action for Sierra Leone of Basic Education for All by the Year 2000, June 1991.
Sierra Leone Government. New Education Policy For Sierra Leone. Freetown: Department of Education, 1995.
—Sheikh Umarr Kamarah
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