BY ALIMAMY LAHAI KAMARA
“No way will the ACC tolerate acts that undermine the free quality education. No way we will sit and watch, in the comfort of our offices, the future of our pupils in public exam classes destroyed. They leave home at night, tell us they go for study, and land themselves in ‘study camps’ organized by teachers. After the public exams (WASSCE and BECE), those who had been camped, what we see as outcome is mass failure; and for the girls who were ‘camped well’ sometimes returned home with projected tummies – pregnancy,” Musa Jawara told SSS principals in a meeting Wednesday at the ACC office in Bo, South of Sierra Leone.
It follows after a PNB Technical Working Group meeting report named Centenary Secondary School, Saint Andrews Secondary School (UCC), and Queen of Rosary Secondary School (QRS) as institutions involving in ‘campism’.
It states that administrators of the said schools have knowledge of and give approval to their teachers to organize the unlawful night lessons outside the school premises.
The ACC Manager told principals of the three schools and a senior school inspector that the practice is unlawful as stipulated in section (17) of the Education Act of 2004. It creates an offence for any person who establishes a private school without the authority of the minister.
It also stipulates an offence for a person who operates an unverified private school.
Teachers perpetrating the offence will be also committing corruption offences such as Abuse of Office, Abuse of Position, and other related offences.
The unlawful night camps, lucrative businesses as they are, also evade NRA tax.
Principals of the three schools did not categorically deny existence of camps, but said they were not held within their school premises. Sister Bernadine Ngozi Nnabuo of QRS recalled March 15 2019 when a worried parent approached her, reporting attendance to a camp his younger sister in the ‘SSS’ class.
Ngozi said she had earlier noticed significant slump in the number of attendance of ‘SSS’ ‘3’ pupils in the three faculties but was unable to ascertain why. A query of the matter by the school administration and board revealed an ‘SSS’ teacher teaching in a camp, and possibly could be wooing pupils to sneak.
Principal of Centenary, Amie Barrie said no sooner they gave admission notices/index numbers to pupils than they noticed a drop in attendance in class. She said she had warned a teacher whom she learnt was teaching in a ‘camp’.
Acting Principal at UCC said he was unaware of ‘campism’ at his school. Moinina Sandi said one of his brilliant pupils stopped attending his government class. He said when he enquired from the boy about his absence, he told him he was attending a camp where the organizers had promised leaking WASSCE questions to them.
‘Campism’ is a lucrative business in Bo. Discussion at PNB meetings is pointing to four night lessons hidden in remote locations in the town-ship. Senior school inspector, Lahai Feika said pupils pay between four hundred and fifty thousand Leones and five hundred thousand Leones as fees for the lesson period.
Teachers are as well paid a blissful three-million Leones for the three-month period.
The camps pay more than what a senior teacher can receive as official salary. This is to induce them both pin coded and non pin coded to commit their time.
The ACC continues to speak to pupils to assist in the identification of the locations of the camps. Pupils are refusing to cooperate.
Sister Ngozi said the pupils are sworn on ‘water and salt’ in order to shut them up from revealing the locations.
The Commission will continue to partner with Ministry of Basic and Senior School Education (MBSSE) and the SLP to clamp down on illegal camps operating in the township.