Concerned youths in Sierra Leone are out in the massive deluge of rain fighting to save the lives of people as damaging floods swept the city of Freetown today.
Life in the Sierra Leone capital once again turned nasty, brutish and dangerous as widespread and raging flooding followed torrential rains that was persisting even as we went to press.
Many people, including children, are said to have died in this latest disaster to hit Freetown, which has not fully recovered yet from the fatal mudslide that killed thousands of residents two years ago.
A young baby born two days ago and his hapless mother were reported to have been swept away by the floods at the slum community of Kroo Bay. At the time of writing, youths were reported to have started recovering dead bodies and a TV footage saw two youths carrying a dead body wrapped in white shroud . They said it was the second body they had recovered in the area.
As a result of all-night rain, which continued throughout the day today, the whole city became flooded with massive volumes of water seen making roads impassable, overflowing bridges and gutters and driving people from their homes in flood-prone areas. AYTV and SLBC-TV showed live footages of distress and suffering as people had to swim to return to their homes to try to salvage their properties.
Streets of Freetown , which had become rivers, were littered with vehicles trapped in the floods.
Many people were heard on TV wailing and desperately appealing to the government to send help.
Even Freetown Water Quay was massively flooded . A fence was broken by the floods and containers could be seen half- buried in the water.
Fuel-Free Generator & Solar Tricycle Invented In Sierra Leone
Two Sierra Leoneans have invented a 600 watts in-built generator that supplies nonstop electricity; powers all appliances-with the exemption of refrigerators.
The ‘Sierra Power Plant Generator’ does not produce smoke and noise. Its main power source is a button and not a crank, because it does not use fuel. With an internal cooling system-when powered on, it constantly and efficiently supplies Alternating Current (A/C) as can be desired-days, weeks and months.
The in-built generator is made up of a mixture of waste electrical components including two (2) rectified diodes, two (2) transformers, two (2) transmitters, two (2) circuit boards, two (2) earths and two (2) switches. “It has a life span of six years-if the precaution is adhered to by the user”, one of the inventors asserts.
The inventors – Emmanuel Alie Mansaray, 21, and Andrew Sahr Norma, 20, are former pupils of Methodist Boys High School, Kissy, East of the capital Freetown. Emmanuel and Andrew say they did not inherit inventory from their parents, rather they were fortunate to learn Physics and Technology as subjects at school, from where they were selected in early 2017 to represent the Methodist Boys High School in the ‘Science Fair Innovation Competition’ held at Fourah Bay College-University of Sierra Leone; funded and organised by the Engineering Department of Cambridge University-UK, and Women in Mathematics, Cambridge and Science Resources Africa.
Emmanuel says the idea of inventing the generator came as a result of his visit to Kambia District, North-western Sierra Leone, early this year, where he noticed the total lack of electricity, “and my co-inventor has also been sharing similar experience of his home district-Kono”. In Emmanuel’s view, the generator will be of “economic benefit and blessing to inhabitants in rural and remote communities where poverty is largely felt”.
Andrew suggests that in future, their knowledge in technology will help them and Sierra Leone as a nation, if they are blessed with international scholarships to pursue their education in science and technology in any advanced university around the world.
Prior to the invention of the 600 watts in-built generator, Emmanuel and Andrew had invented a single-seater solar tricycle and a mini radio station. The solar tricycle covers about 50 kilometers per hour-which they say can be of immense importance and benefit to especially persons with disabilities, considering their challenges on movement and the acute shortage of transportation on the populace of Sierra Leone.
The local inventors’ radio station of about 700 meter-range, with a tiny transmitter, which they named: “Kuntorlor Community Radio” has always been interruptive to the bigger radio stations in the community including Citizen and Tumac FM in Kissy, Freetown. “We decided to shut it as a result of the persistent complaints over interruption in the airwaves, since ours is unlicensed and unauthorised”, Emmanuel tells the press.
If admitted into the University of Sierra Leone for this academic year, Emmanuel will study Geology, and Andrew will study Engineering Option. Over the years, they have been getting minor financial and moral support from Kite-SL, an NGO that deals with the issues of persons with disabilities, whose office is situated back of 2020 Night Club, Kissy, Freetown, where Emmanuel and Andrew do their inventory works. The two can be reached on +232 77 32-08-79/77 91-57-96 for more on their invention and support for mass production of the generator.
As Bio Prioritizes Education, No Schools At Maforkie, Marampa Chiefdoms
Parents and guardians from many villages in Marampa and Maforkie chiefdoms have appealed to the Government of President Julius Maada Bio not to leave their children behind in the Free Quality Education Initiative. (Photo: One of the voluntary teachers, Mr. Roke S. Fofanah with vulnerable kids)
According to some parents, they are worried about the education of their children for the fact that they walked many miles to find schools as a result of the complete absence of concrete school structures except caricature makeshift structures made out of old zinc and cane sticks which does not allow children to sit in class during the raining season as a result of the thatch roof leakages.
They said such a situation is not good for the well being of their children being that there is no health centre or pure drinking water fetched from tap water except they have to go for running stream water which is also hazardous to their health across over 41 villages.
Speaking to this press, one of the voluntary teachers at the unapproved Mabureh village Baptist Primary School in Maforkie Chiefdom, Roke S. Fofanah said the school which was built through the effort of communal labor comprises two rooms and each room contained three classes from classes one to six.
One of the voluntary teachers, Mr. Roke S. Fofanah
He said the total number of children attending the lack of accommodation and teaching materials school is seventy five and grumbled that they hears about the free education but it is not felt in that part of the country.
Mr. Fofanah further elaborated the school has three unapproved teachers who are working on voluntary basis just to get the children educated adding that Mr. Lamin H. Bangura is the name of the school principal. He therefore appealed to the Government to help construct modern structure for the education and protection of the well-being of their innocent children.
They also appealed to the Government to control activities of some mining company including Sierramin Bauxite Sierra Leone Limited who are working under the command of some selfish public authorities to stop indiscriminate mining in the district or else they would one day take drastic action against any company that may attempt to destabilize their environs.
The Sierra Leonean amputee community has appealed for greater inclusion into the Free Education program of the new government. The amputees, who made the appeal over the week in Rokel Village, say since the launch of the flagship program of the ‘New Direction’ government, their involvement has been limited due to the limited schools approved by the government in their locality.
Rokel Village is located a few km outside Freetown. There are only two approved schools in the whole area, which means many of the children of the amputees are forced to enroll in private schools, which do not benefit from the scheme.”We are appealing for the amputees to be given special attention in the Free Education initiative”, Pastor Tamba Finnoh, Secretary General of the National Amputees Association of Sierra Leone, said.
He was speaking at a ceremony marking the handing over of learning materials donated to the community by the Melqosh Mission International Pastor Sister Faith, the head of the Melqosh Mission International, is the pioneer of the donation, with support from GTBank.
The package also includes school fees, targeted at over 50 amputee school going children.
The Melqosh Mission has been supporting people with disabilities for couple of years now. They even supported over 350 pupils in the community last year.
Pastor Finnoh also used the opportunity to call on President Julius Maada Bio’s attention to the plight of the amputee community in the country. Eleanor Massah Abdulai, a Melqosh Mission Advocate, who is also an amputee, stressed on the need of empowering female persons with disabilities in health, jobs and education.
Another amputee, Mariatu Mayango, also emphasised on the need to empower the amputees.
The amputees also used the opportunity to narrate some of their ordeals, ranging from encroachment of their lands by the abled bodied neighbors, to stigmatization and discrimination.
Speaking on behalf of GTBank, the General Manager, Mr. Ade Adebiyi stressed the need to support the Free Education initiative of the government. He assured of his bank’s continued support in this regard.
The chief benefactor, Pastor Faith, founder of Melqosh Mission International, called on the government, local and international partners to support persons with disabilities. She explained that her organisation felt obliged to support persons with disabilities ,especially amputees, after seeing what they go through in the streets across the country. She said she wanted them to live independent lives devoid of street begging.
Marking International Day of Rural Women, UN Women called on Sierra Leone to ensure that women and girls living in rural areas enjoy their human rights as this would enable making “progress for all”. “The empowerment of rural women and girls is essential to building a prosperous, equitable and peaceful future for all on a healthy planet,” the UN Women said, stressing that “it is needed for achieving gender equality, ensuring decent work for all, eradicating poverty and hunger and taking climate action”. In Sierra Leone, UN Women says rural women represent 70% of the agricultural labour force adding that despite the important role women play in natural resource management and food production their works is often informal and poorly paid, offering little access to social protection or income security. “Rural women in Sierra Leone are often discriminated against ownership, access to and control of land, and most importantly, women are not realizing their economic impact from their agricultural activities. This is largely because of discriminatory, customary and statutory laws which favour men to women.” Isatu Sesay, program officer, Initiative for Women and Children said, “As child labour is common in the countryside, girls form a significant part of the agricultural workforce. This means rural women and girls remain disproportionately affected by poverty, inequality, exclusion and the effects of climate change.” Sesay said that includes the right to land and security of land tenure; to adequate food and nutrition and a life free of all forms of violence, discrimination and harmful practices. She added that every woman and girl should expect the highest attainable standard of health, including sexual and reproductive health; and has a right to quality, affordable and accessible education. Sesay says women and girls are responsible for water collection and fuel collection in most rural households without access to drinking water or electricity. The arduous journey, she says often takes several hours, poses much safety risks and hampers their ability to get an education or make a living. In addition, cooking with unclean fuels can result in long-term and even fatal health problems for women, Sesay stated, in countries like Sierra Leone that rely heavily on fuels like coal, wood, manure or crop waste for cooking, women account for 6 out of every 10 premature deaths through household air pollution. Stating that improving the lives of women and girls in rural areas requires “legal and policy reforms” and their inclusion in the decisions that affect their lives, Sesay stressed that “investing in their well-being, livelihoods and resilience, we make progress for all”. Noting the critical role that women’s groups play in sustainable development, the UN’s gender-quality agency, UN Women, noted that enhanced access to safe drinking water and sanitation brings gains in girls’ education and eventually increases women’s paid work to generate goods and provide services. She further pointed out that extending the reach of water grids and continuous piped drinking water to rural communities, is therefore an important priority with multiple benefits.
Mousa E. Massaquoi: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 September 2018:
Sierra Leone was once the centre for quality education in Anglophone West Africa. Known as the Athens of West Africa, the country has witnessed a steady decline in the provision of good standards of quality education.
This has immensely affected the human resource base of the country and productivity of its economy.
The free and quality education programme which was launched by President Julius Maada Bio at the Miatta Conference Hall on 20th August, 2018, will focus on government and government assisted schools all over the country.
The government’s support will include free subsidy for pre-primary, primary, Junior Secondary and Senior Secondary Schools, accelerated primary school programme for over-aged children in non-formal education learning centres, subsidy for pupils taking private examination. BECE, NPSE, WASSCE and NCTVA examination fees will be met by the government.
The free education programme will supply core text books in English, Mathematics, Social Studies, Integrated Science and Civic Education; essential teaching and learning materials for pupils and teachers – including exercise books, pens, pencils, chalks, registers and sports equipment, and a school meal.
Much needed furnitures are being supplied to schools in all districts. There are more trained and qualified teachers now on the government payroll.
The President has declared that his government will strictly enforce the Education Act of 2004. The Education Act of 2004 clearly states that it is a crime for any parent or guardian who does not send his or her child to school.
The launch of the free and quality education programme by the new administration has been welcomed by all well-meaning Sierra Leoneans.
But to find out about the preparedness of schools, our reporter spoke to heads of school and parents around Freetown.
Mrs. Rachel M.S Turay, acting Head-teacher of Saint Luke’s primary school, Wilberforce Barracks, said they are ready for the government’s free and quality education programme starting in September. Class lists and classrooms have been prepared, she said.
“We used to have 60 to 70 pupils per classroom and the classrooms are very small. Despite the government calls for 50 pupils per class, we are not going to ask pupils to find other schools because most of them got promoted. Lack of furniture and classrooms are the major challenges we are facing but we have just managed to repair the broken furniture that we had,” she said.
She stated that government used to provide school funding subsidy, but the whole of last academic year they did not receive a single cent from the government. She noted that last academic year, parents were asked to help run the school by paying additional charge of Le170, 000 per child.
Madam Turay said that the money collected from parents was also used to organize sporting events, school thanksgiving, paid auxiliary workers and other utility bills.
She said: “We do not admit pupils in other classes, except for class one and that is for pupils that graduated from nursery school. We are prepared to take at most 55 pupils per class because we also have repeaters. We won’t take a single penny from parents as admission fees because of the free and quality education programme.”
Mrs. Turay added that since government has introduced the free and quality education programme they are not going to collect money from parents as school charges as they did previously.
She said that she had called the teachers to a meeting and warned them strictly not to ask for payment from parents; and that if anyone is found wanting for taking money from parents, they will be dealt with accordingly.
The Head Teacher is appealing for more classrooms and furniture so as to cut down on the number of pupils per class.
She said that since text and exercise books are part of the free education package, they have not given booklist to parents, and that they will distribute government supplies received fairly.
“The school feeding programme will depend on what the government will provide. If what the government will be providing is enough, we will be cooking everyday but if it is not enough we will know how we will alternate the cooking. But if government does not provide help with firewood, pots and they like, we will call on the parents for assistance and the feeding will be for free,” she maintained.
She however called on the government to send the free education package to schools immediately when school reopens, so that they can begin to plan its delivery.
The Head Teacher of D.T Akibo-Betts Municipal primary school, Tower Hill, Madam Fatmata Musa explained that the school doesn’t have adequate classrooms and enough furniture. She said that for the time being they will make adjustment to accommodate the government’s 50 per class policy.
“We have done some registration and it was free of charge. The only thing we asked for was the last school report cards,” she stated.
Mrs. Musa added that the main challenge facing her school is that the school compound is not paved and has no proper playing ground for the pupils. She calls on the government and development partners to consider helping the school.
She calls on parents to make use of this opportunity by sending their pupils to school, and to monitor them so that the county’s literacy rate can increase.
Mr Sahr M.R Dauda, Principal of Government Model Senior Secondary School said they are at the stage of preparation and are putting measures in place for the free quality education programme.
He outlined that the key challenge facing the school is that they have a large number of pupils but not enough classrooms. He said they will not be able to implement the 50 pupils per classroom policy at this time.
“We are working towards having more furniture and putting up temporary structures to accommodate the pupils so that we can meet the government’s policy,” he stated.
He disclosed that his school used to have 70-80 pupils per class, and that the teacher to pupil ratio has been poor. This is the very reason why the school has not been performing well in public examinations, he said.
He said that last academic year, up to 1,784 pupils applied for admission to attend the school SSS1. A large number of them passed the entry exam, but the school was unable to admit all of them, noting that they will be cutting down on the number of intakes in the coming academic year.
The school administrator also disclosed that he has a good number of qualified teachers, but the only problem is that most of them are not yet approved.
He calls on the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education to speedily approve more qualified teachers who have been in the system, and also make the learning environment friendly for pupils – more especially the disabled.
He admitted that parents are always in the habit of bribing teachers. He said that any parent who engages in such practice will be destroying the free quality education programme the government has introduced in the country.
He added also that, some pupils are in the habit of lying to their parents that the school has asked them to take money to school, which he said is not true.
“Teachers are professionals and should behave professionally in schools. I’m calling on teachers who are in the habit of asking for money from pupils to stop immediately, because any teacher who engages in such practice is committing a serious crime and will face the full force of the law.”
Mr. Mohamed Kallon, a parent of two said that the free quality education programme is a laudable project for which he is thanking the government.
He said paying school fees for his children has been a huge challenge as both of his kids are in secondary school.
He stated that the government should monitor the free quality education programme as teachers are in the habit of organising extra classes, which he said is a burden on parents.
“We the parents should rigorously monitor our children to and from schools because government is paying huge amount of the country’s budget into the education sector, which would have been allocated to agriculture or health,” he appealed.
Another parent of three, Madam Josephine Williams said that the free education is welcoming news for them. She maintained that they are going to make use of the opportunity as it has been the cry of parents.
Madam Williams added that government should fully monitor the process, if not, some unscrupulous offcials in the educational system will undermine the process.
Mr. Augustine M. Kambo, Head of Administration at Education for All Sierra Leone Coalition and also a member of the Technical Working Committee on the Free, Quality Education programme, said that as a civil society working on education, the Free Quality Education is a laudable venture by the government, because for a long time they have been campaigning for access to free and quality education.
“As per global standard, the world has decided that every country should allocate 20% of their national budgets to education. And today, we have seen the government allocated 21% of the budget to education, and we have started seeing result of our campaign,” he stated.
He said, as a member of the Technical Working Committee, on the area of one shift system, the Minister of Basic and Secondary Education held discussion with the conference of principals, and they all agreed to accept a one shift system; stating that it might not be 100% successful, but they have to start somewhere.
Mr. Kambo maintained that with the introduction of the free quality education programme, contact hours of pupils with their teachers in school will increase, which he said has been a challenge leading to poor performance in public exams.
“We as civil societies are ready to follow and monitor the process because the role of civil society is that, we should be an ally to government and we should also look at government as a target based on the promises,” he said.
But he said, what is disappointing about the free quality education is that the President in his speech did not talk about issues affecting the physically challenged. He said the government should have provided accessibility support for disabled children to enable quick access to schools. They are also part of the society, he said.
He said that they are going to follow the delivery of the free education programme rigorously to make sure that school authorities do not extort money from parents and guardians.
The civil society activist stated that they are also going to work with diverse stakeholders at various levels to find out the challenges they face and proffer solutions.
He calls on the government to put a premium on teacher recruitment, stating that the free and quality education can only be achieved through the service of qualified teachers.
Sierra Telegraph 5th September 2018
Editor’s Note: This story is made available courtesy of MRCG/SLRU with support from UNDP.
By Dr Augustine Kamara MD MPH. Freetown Sierra Leone.
Its been nearly two months since I arrived in mama Salone, and I am glad it is possible for me to observe the health situation of the country. Visiting around various hospitals, and other health institutions, I feel disappointed that Sierra Leone is yet to move the health institution, and health workforce forward to an appreciable and acceptable standard.
If people are to survive with the least trivial of health problems, then it is a must that the health system be revamped as soon as possible. I visited several times the Connaught hospital the main government and referral hospital in the capital Freetown, I am appalled to see an Emergency Room (ER) that is lacking with the basic diagnostic tools let alone the personnel as one would expect to see in an ER. There is hardly any physician to be seen around the ER, and if one is present, it would be occasionally and briefly leaving the rest to be taken care of by few nurses. This is the reason why most patients would avoid this hospital, for other private hospitals like the Choithram hospital at hill station, Abanita hospital off kingerman road.
The very few that can afford it, would fly out of the country to India, neighboring Ghana, or Europe. The Chinese hospital at Jui the east end of Freetown, is a standard hospital with a robust medical staff, but again not many patients can afford to visit this hospital when they fall sick.
I visited a private hospital at mile 13 along the Freetown peninsula -Goderich axis, this is one example of a clinic created by diasporas that could change the face of the health condition in Sierra Leone; This is a small clinic that has some diagnostic material that caters for the catchment area around Goderich even though it is struggling for enough medical staffs. I have not been upcountry to see how things are done, but, one can easily conclude that things would not be better off than the capital city Freetown. At this juncture, I would advocate to fellow Sierra Leoneans with medical background to take the challenge as a few have done to come back and give service to their country.
I know it would not be easy to do that when one thinks about the hurdles one must overcome. The government of the new direction must help in this matter by encouraging health personnel from the diaspora to come back home. Diaspora must be ready to form partnership and build alliances like our Ghanaian counterparts have done in Ghana to alleviate the sufferings of not only Sierra Leoneans, but regionally. As part of the fight against corruption, let the idea of “2 sim” ideology segregation be abolished.
The idea of colleagues’ or senior officials in the medical profession, that tend to discourage medical professionals return from abroad, by discouraging their recruitment must be investigated into. I see no reason why medical personnel from other continents, and countries that have similar qualifications as Sierra Leoneans to be good salaries; but refuse to give the same salaries opportunities to Sierra Leonean doctors or nurses. I have gone around and can testify to this malpractice within the medical profession by senior officials. I guess we will not easily fill the gap of medical personnel without foreign help, but slowly we can bridge the gap of medical personnel shortage if we encourage “2 sims” to come home with good incentives, the same way the Ghanaians did. The brain drainage by our medical personnel will also be curtailed. It is high time we build strong medical institutions with meaningful faculties in our new form medical college.
Community medicine or Public Health must be put into good practice effect, by strong health education, and outreach activities. Our poor environmental sanitation, including food handling by peddlers, and daily practices of hygiene including hand washing is awful. These are the main sources of public health where intervention, and prevention must be done. We must have learnt why the Ebola Virus Disease “EVD” quickly disseminated within our communities was due to poor hygiene, health education, and lack of personal protective effects (PPE). After the last episode of the EVD in 2014 in West Africa, one would expect serious awareness preparedness for future unprecedented natural or artificial calamities should be going on. There must be drills of different public health awareness of the communities, organized at local, urban, and national levels. The different cultural and religious bodies must be involved as well as mass media; Schools, and colleges should be encouraged to partake as volunteers in serving their communities. Outreach activities should be double paced to educate the different populations.
Waterborne diseases including mosquitoes seem to be responsible for most of our common ailments, one can quickly say about 70% of our ailments are waterborne diseases. Recent years have expressed serious flooding along our coastal lines that affected low social economic status dwellers not only by displacing them from their poor habitats, but also impinged on them serious gastrointestinal diseases such as cholera outbreaks or typhoid. The soup created from unsanitary latrines during flooding would infect underground water, exposing the entire population to diseases such as typhoid, weils disease, and cholera. Stagnant water around the city in crevices, open tins and abandoned open containers, or disposed lorry or car tyres and abandoned water-pipes are good breeding grounds for mosquitoes; poor refuse disposals, and mines of dustbins are good breeding grounds for mosquitoes, rodents, cockroaches, stray dogs. The eradication by recycling of these dumping grounds, would greatly reduce illnesses such as Lassa fever another hemorrhagic disease caused by rats.
Over population is a major problem in Freetown, that creates a social menace. Apart from unemployment, there is high incidence of prostitution the scary cause of HIV infection upsurge that has engulfed the population according to reports from the media. Drug addiction and crime is on the rise among the youths, a partial creation by political parties who used the innocent unsuspecting youths to carry out violent campaigns during elections but left jobless after election periods.
The common man and some of our “pepe” doctors or quack doctors are quick to diagnose everyone as having typhoid, or malaria with non-laboratory/radiology diagnoses. The innocent population is tortured with frequent malarial medications, and saline infusions, that can easily be reached.
Constitutional or systemic diseases like Diabetes, Hypertension, Urinary Tract Infections etcetera, are often missed out or misdiagnosed or delayed due to lack of diagnostic tools. It is disheartening to think of a simple interpretation of an electrocardiogram (ECG/EKG) is done by few as two physicians in the entire nation. There are instances an EKG result must wait for it to be interpreted in Europe, or America until then nothing would be done to attempt a cure. This is just some of the simple things that are lacking.
However, there is an olive branch to be extended to all the brave Sierra Leoneans that withstood the test of times, and challenges; despite the shortcomings in the health system, they have been there to rescue as much as they could whether at Connaught or elsewhere. I must pause here for a minute of silence to recognize our fallen heroes during the EVD; this goes from Dr. Khan and all other medical personnel both nationals, and international players including volunteers that lost their lives in combating the deadly bug. As we move with the new direction of president Maada Bio, I humbly request the full participation of all Sierra Leoneans to drop all animosity or grudges we may Abor for one another and help propel the country forward.
When one considers the country’s potential wealth, Sierra Leone should be counted as one of the most progressive nations in the continent of Africa, and the world, but this will come only if we Sierra Leoneans think as one family, and embrace ourselves as brothers and sisters, and put the interest of the country first. Meanwhile I am humbly asking our government and all officials of the country to also be honest in running the country and to do due diligence in promoting the development of the country. PAOPA SALONE FOR BETTEH.