By Omar Bah
Members of the National Assembly select committee on education currently on a countrywide tour struggled to hold back their tears during visits to some schools in North Bank Region.
At Kerr Pateh Basic Cycle, students sat on mats whiles at Bassick primary school, pupils are helplessly kept in open wooden classrooms.
The NAMs described these conditions as unacceptable in the 21st century and vowed to engage the line ministries to seek answers and solutions facing schools across the country.
At No-Kunda Basic Cycle, an average of 52 students share the same classroom, whiles the school toilets which are in deplorable conditions were built since 1965.
The No Kunda school principal, Basirou Njie informed the visiting NAMs the difficulties he faces to attract qualified teachers to his school, especially now that the college has introduced school tuition which has given practicing teachers the freedom to choose schools.
In Bassick primary school, students are kept in wooden classes designed to just cover them from the heat of the sun.
The issues of furniture and lack of textbooks dominated the complaints made by the school heads.
Whiles expressing his frustration and shock over the conditions of some of the schools, the national assembly member for Sami Constituency who also heads the team of NAMs, Alfusainey Ceesay assured the schools’ administration that their concerns will be vehemently raised with the right authority.
The NAM for Sandu Constituency, Muhammed Mohaneri argued that there cannot be quality education when the learning conditions in schools are not conducive for students and teachers.
He described as inhumane the conditions the committee found some students at Kerr Pateh Basic Cycle.
The Committee has also raised concern over the distances some students travel to school. According to the information gathered, some students travel over seven kilometres.
The NAMs have also raised the question of the ninety million dalasi allocated to all government schools for School Improvement Grant, which is being implemented but many principals in the visited schools have failed to produce tangible information or accounts for the monies.
Some schools received in the regions of seven hundred thousand dalasi yearly but they could not show anything that could justify where and how the monies were spent.
The NAM for Sabach Sanjal, Ousman Touray said they have realised that the payment of SIG’s has not been forthcoming and that the shortage of teachers is also a major problem in many schools.
He said they have also observed that many schools don’t have science labs or standard libraries, transparency issues and cluster monitors.