S Leone to revamp education system
Freetown - Sierra Leone's government on Friday announced a major reform of its aging education system, increasing the time spent in secondary school and introducing performance contracts for teachers.
"The government has introduced one more year for pupils to spend in senior secondary school before going on to university or tertiary education," Education Minister Minkailu Bah told journalists.
This would replace a system introduced 20 years ago where students spent three years in secondary school.
Other reforms would include the banning of social events on university campuses, the scrapping of ceremonial uniforms but strict enforcement of dress codes in schools and colleges.
French will be compulsory in all junior secondary schools and English is the language of usage on campuses.
The government of the west African nation set up a commission of inquiry in May 2009 to find out the reasons why pupils failed in mass two public examinations in 2008.
The commission visited Ghana, Nigeria and Kenya to compare their systems of education to that of Sierra Leone, where a brutal decade-long civil war that ended in 2002 shattered infrastructure and kept children away from schools.
Bah said while problems at home and in society contributed to poor performance, the "generally negative attitude" of teachers bore the greatest responsibility.
"Students had poor command of the English language, did not understand the requirements of questions, were not adequately prepared for exams, lack study skills," and cheated in exams, he said.