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Change at Ministry of Basic Senior and Secondary Education

23 November 2019 at 18:18 | 2248 views

There was a change of leadership at Sierra Leone’s Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education recently. The new Minister, Dr. Paul Sengeh, is the youngest Minister of Education the country has ever had but he comes with a wealth of experience and education in the field of 21st century technology.

A handing over ceremony took place last Thursday at the Ministry and here is a report by Ibrahim Sheriff, an employee of that Ministry:

By Ibrahim Sheriff – Communications Specialist, MBSSE

Honourable Alpha Osman Timbo, former Minister of the Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education (MBSSE), now Minister of Labor and Social Security, dressed in a sky-blue African gown, in a calm and collected voice welcomed the newly parliament-confirmed and State House-sworn Minister, Dr. David Moinina Sengeh (photo) into his new New Englandville office.

In the Ministry’s conference room that was jam-packed with staff of the Ministry, staff of the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation (DSTI) which the new Minister also continues to head, members of Civil Society Organizations and other guests, the outgoing Minister, Hon. Alpha Osman Timbo recounted on his years at the Ministry of Labor, Social Security and Industrial Relations when he was first appointed there by former President Ahmad Tejan Kabbah.

He stated that after accomplishing what he accomplished in that Ministry, he never thought that he will return to the same Ministry as he is now about to take up leadership position there again. The outgoing Minister registered his thanks and appreciation to staff of the MBSSE for accomplishing some of the challenging aspects of the Free Quality School Education implementation activities. He especially thanked the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Charles T. Kamanda for his supportive roles and for effectively administering affairs at the Ministry. The outgoing Minister also appreciated an education consultant in the person of Dr. Dupigny, the National Program Coordinator of the Free Quality School Education (FQSE) Secretariat, Mr. Amara Sowa, the Teaching Service Commission, and all other staff of the Ministry.

He wished the new Minister well and assured him of the competency of current staff that will help him do his job right. Timbo also stated that the new Minister is not new to the MBSSE as he has been part of some trips abroad on behalf of the Ministry and that he has been a major part of the establishment of the new education database at the Ministry through the DSTI. He further stated that he has submitted his handing-over note to the new Minister. The outgoing Minister ended on a comical note by stating, “I am gone, but I am here” – meaning that his office is also located just behind the MBSSE main building.

Dr. David Moinina Sengeh, dressed in brown trousers with a beige colour shirt tucked in, registered his appreciation to the outgoing Minister for the smooth transfer of authority.

Without wasting time, the American-trained bio-scientist went straight to the point by stating that his personal work mantra is “Yes and…” not “Yes, but…” He stated that he believes in people doing their jobs and not always giving excuses. He stated in clear terms that if staff have not found an answer to a job assignment, they must not go to his office for mere explanations. The new Minister further stated that he will be meeting with the leadership team at the Ministry, but he went ahead and outlined his work principles as follows:
First, Dr. Sengeh stated that he is at the Ministry to “DO MY JOB” and not to “KEEP MY JOB.” By that statement, the Minister meant that he believes in producing results and not merely because he wants to keep his job as Minister.
Second, Dr. Sengeh emphasized on the importance of "communication", and the significant role it plays before, during and after work.
Third, the new Minister laid another emphasis on "Respect for everyone" including office messengers and cleaners. He stated that respect must be the undertone of every action at the Ministry.
Fourthly, the new Minister stated that his work principles are strongly rooted in "data", meaning that he values the importance of data in making critical decisions that positively impact the work the Ministry does. He appreciated the conduct of the national school census as an important step taken by the Ministry in collecting and organizing relevant data that helps with critical decision making.
Fifth, the new Minister stated that "Gender Balance" is important in this modern era where women are especially allowed to speak, do, and actively participate in all aspects of decision-making at the Ministry.
He stated that he will frown at anyone who disrespects women for either their looks, manner of dressing, etc.
Finally, as a matter of his work principle, Dr. David Sengeh stated that he believes in the capacity of people he works with. He therefore stated that he will be conducting an internal capacity audit of Ministry leaders including Directors, Deputy Directors, other critical heads of the Ministry to understand their capacities and see if staff can be retained or let go based on incapacity and job performance issues.
The new Minister ended his comment on the note that he is young, but very curious and active to learn. He asked everyone to work with him, but remember the children of Sierra Leone whom he is passionate about, and whose future the President cares much about.
The handing over meeting was well attended. It ended with no questions from participants. However, a civil society representative, Mr. Alphonzo Manley outlined the role of his organization since the launching of the FQSE, their assessments after nationwide monitorings, observations, and made suggestions to the new Minister based on those assessments, monitoring and observations.
The Ministry is observed to be in an excited mood as all look forward to working with the new Minister and his work principles.

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