*LAB appeal to WAEC to release results of 253 pupils*
The Sierra Leone Legal Aid Board has appealed to the West African Examinations Council (WAEC) in Sierra Leone to release the results of two hundred and fifty-three (253) senior secondary pupils of the Trinity International Secondary School in Allen Town in Freetown on compassionate grounds.
In a letter dated 22 February 2017, the Board assured WAEC of efforts at ensuring the school authorities pay the balance owed the Council.
The Board’s intervention follows a complaint from the pupils of the school on Tuesday, February 21 after it emerged WAEC had withdrawn their West African Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) results a week after it was published on the internet.
The spokesperson for the pupils, Agnes Feika said they decided to lodge a complaint with the Legal Aid Board because the Criminal Investigations Department (CID) in Freetown had kept them in the dark regarding the investigations. ‘We went to the CID on Saturday, February 18 and found that the Principal had been released from detention,’ she said. ‘There was no body to explain to us what was happening. We therefore decided to take the matter to the Board on Tuesday.’
Agnes said they reported the matter to the CID after WAEC confirmed their worst fears. ‘The Authorities at WAEC told us our results have been withdrawn; that they will not be released until the school authorities pay the money they owe the Council,’ he said. ‘The Principal and Proprietor of the school had earlier proffered the same explanation when we confronted them on the issue.’
The Board got the CID to re-arrest the Principal of the school, Mr. Abdulai Mansaray while efforts are made to raise the balance of twenty-seven million leones (27,000,000) owed WAEC. ‘The school authorities have already paid over One hundred and five million leones (105,000,000) into the WAEC Account,’ the Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Officer, Reverend Bob Kandeh said. ‘We will surely have the school authorities to pay the balance of twenty-seven million leones (27,000,000) to WAEC. We did that for the Hill Top Community Secondary School at Hill Station in Freetown nearly two weeks ago, we will do same for this school.’
The Principal of the school, Abdulai Mansaray said they have paid over eighty percent of the money owed WAEC. He added that they had provided collateral for the balance in the form of conveyance for the school, proprietor’s house and seven acres of land. ‘This was why WAEC released the results,’ he said. ‘We do not understand why they had to withdraw the results while still holding on to the collaterals.’
The Director of the Legal Aid Board, Ms. Fatmata Claire Carlton-Hanciles has called on the Ministry of Education and stakeholders in the education sector to learn lessons from the two schools in order to prevent a recurrence. He urged them to be vigilante by ensuring schools are properly registered and supervised.
‘The seeming exploitation of children by those who should mold them into future leaders is a serious concern to all well-meaning people not least the Board,’ he said. ‘This is becoming a pattern. We will play our part by ensuring our Citizens Advisory Bureaus and Paralegals keep an eye on mushroom schools in their respective Wards around the country with a view to identifying early warning signs.’
It would be recalled this is the second appeal in two weeks after the Board secured the release of WASSCE results for 208 pupils of the Hill Top Community School at Hill Station in Freetown.