Gbarpolu County – The Bopolu District Education Officer, Mr. Charles Kabba has ordered the Principal of Boima Zinnah Elementary and Junior High School in Totoquelleh Town to explain why 76 students dropped out of school during the 2018/2019 academic year.
The number of dropouts seems alarming and the DEO and the Parent Teachers Association consider adopting a policy that will slap a US$25 fine on parents who fail to keep or send their children to school.
DEO Kabba said it is “unfortunate” for a huge number of students to drop out of school in a town that is about 5 kilometers away from Bopolu City.
He frowned on the school administration’s failure to notify his office about challenges that were keeping students out of school.
“When I got the news, I immediately summoned the principal to come to my office with a comprehensive report on the activities for the year under review. So that I will question him why that happened,” Kabba said.
Earlier, the school’s Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) chairperson, Peter Flomo had told reporters that the students dropped because parents were not doing enough to keep them in school.
“Sometimes when the school open, it can be packed. But during the second semester most of the students can drop from the school,” says Flomo.
He wants measures put in place to compel parents to take their children’s education seriously.
“I will be appealing to the principal for us to put into place a plan so that we will not put children out of school this coming school year,” the PTA chair said.
“We will be carrying the parents to court in Bopolu, when they are [parents] paying the US$25.00 fine to government revenue, then their children will be in school learning.”
At the same time, the DEO is worried that despite “all measures put in place, parents are not still sending their children to school”.
Mr. Kabba agrees that the enforcement of the laws to compel parents to send their children to school might help curb the situation.
“This coming semester, everything will be put in place with other stakeholders, anybody that will fail to send their child or children to school will be sent to court to pay the fines of US$25.00 and be compelled to send their child or children to school,” he said.
Meanwhile, the Principal Edward Flomo has backtracked on his previous account of the number of students who dropped out of school last school year.
Commenting on the 76 students that reportedly dropped from school, the Principal said; “Maybe it was a slip of [the] tongue I made during the school closing program that made people just talking about it – I don’t know.”
“For the school year 2018/2019, we registered 303 students; out of this number, 233 students successfully passed and 44 students failed flat, and 26 students drop out”.
“This is what I have on my roster, so I do not want the people to be panic because my bosses are on my back.”
According to him, maintaining all the enrolled students in rural school is very challenging “because some of these students are right in the town where the school is and every day they do not want to come to school,” said Mr. Flomo.
“Some students used to go to school without a uniform, and when you ‘asked why?’, they say they do not have a uniform. And when we used to send them home for uniform, their parents take them on the farm, and say their part of school is over.”
Flomo claims farming and gold mining activities as well as early marriage are some of the causes of mass failure and increasing dropouts.
“Especially the boys, they usually go to Jungle James to do the mining business and few girls are pregnant. So, these are some of the problems we are facing with the students in the school.”
Report by Henry B. Gboluma /firstname.lastname@example.org