By Tabora Bojang
Wuli West National Assembly Member, Famara Sabally, yesterday told basic education minister Claudiana Cole that some students in public schools in his constituency don’t have chairs and desks and they sit on mats during classes.
Hon. Sabally, himself a former teacher, described this situation as appalling, adding that the regional education authorities have been informed about it but there is still no improvement.
He decried that most schools in his area generally don’t have proper basic tools to facilitate smooth learning for students and this includes problems of furniture, text books and trained teachers.
Minister Cole replied that the shortage of textbooks, furniture and other materials is due to budget constraints facing the sector. She said her ministry will continue to engage relevant authorities and partners for more support.
But the Wuli NAM further asked if the minister is aware that students in Perai and Sare Ngai are using mats to sit on during classes. The education minister responded that the “use of mats in our schools is not a taboo.”
“Anywhere you find mats in our classrooms, that may be in the Early Childhood Development (ECD) class rooms rather than in the upper grades. We know that for the little ones aged 3-6 they can be more comfortable sitting on those mats. ECD learns through play and it is easier for them to sit on the mats to do their play while they are learning.”
Dissatisfied with these claims, NAM Sabally charged: “Honorable Minister, I was a teacher and I know what you are trying to say but these classrooms are not ECD classrooms. Your Cluster Monitor should inform the directorate so that you have a clear picture of what obtains in schools”.
Sannementereng NAM Fatou Cham, inquired if the minister conducted an investigation to establish if such schools are ECD schools or not and Minister Cole promised to consult with the regional director to get to the issue.
She however added that schools should be able to help themselves by repairing broken furniture through the school improvement grants disbursed to them.
The Member for Jeshwang, Sheriff Sarr, said it is a surprise to him to learn that students sit on mats in schools and asked Minister Cole to state her preparedness to tackle the issue.