Transmis par Florence Ssereo
Upon returning from Sierra Leone
Quite recently, in the context of my work, I undertook a Mission to Sierra Leone. The visit was aimed at knowing the country, 4 years after the end of the 10years civil war, understanding the scope of the challenges, problems facing education in general and the situation of teachers and teaching in particular.
This was my second visit in 25 years; the first was made in 1986, when I was still a student, and on the Pan-African YCS team. Twenty five years ago Freetown looked different, calm, peaceful and blooming. Those were days of political stability, diamond backed economy and the country had outstanding Universities and performing education system.
Four years later, the scars of the 10years civil war are still visible: broken tarmac roads, buildings under reconstruction, youth and adults carrying visible physical scars and the lifestyles have also changed though everyone seems dynamic and busy working hard at something to make a living.
The social and friendly faces I saw on the streets hide the hardships of a post conflict country, a society struggling to rebuild its self, the infrastructure, social structures, institutions, value systems and the economy. In this context, education is expected to play a crucial role, to empower people though knowledge and skills to reconstruct the country, yet I saw many children and young people out of school and the ex-child soldiers (youth) need special program ( it is believed that they can freeze the country within one hour!). Teachers are under a lot of pressure, they are expected by the society to teach effectively and produce quality results. though some have never been trained and those trained are not teaching, let alone low salaries, difficult prevailing working conditions.
The rural farmer 25years ago, either cultivated subsistence food crops for family use and sold surplus for money or engaged in diamond-mining activities for income, among other income generating activities. Today, according to a young man I met at the airport, travelling abroad, farmers are contracting their land to multinational companies for the use of sugarcane plantation. Consequently, the rural population is turning into landless citizens, who are unable to feed themselves either because they have contracted their land for years and cannot amend the contract and have already spent the little money paid to them by the multinational company or the wages they earned through working on the sugarcane plantations is too little (less than 10euros a month!) Development is being reversed, by this practice, situation is transforming from poor to miserable.
About Land Grab see :