By: Festus Conteh
When the “Free Education Scheme” was introduced in the country, the pupils were the first to celebrate because they know what it’s like going to school when you know full well that you owe your school. A lot of arguments have been surfaced about whether the “Free Education Scheme” has some qualities or not. Since there is free education in the country I think there is a lot more to do if we want to combat a massive drop out.
Mafereh Conteh is a nine (9) year old girl whose two parents are Abdulai Conteh and N’Mah Kamara. She is from a family of ten including her twin partner Alusine Conteh. They are the 6th and 7th children in the family. Mafereh who finds pleasure in schooling at her age is ready to undergo the worst just for her to be educated school. The class one pupil of Tombo Progressive Primary School (TPPS) walks over 400 meters every day to go to school.
She explains what prompted her to admit herself “Before the introduction of the “Free Education”, I wasn’t going to school because there was no money to pay which is why my twin brother was sent to one of our uncles to learn carpenter and I wasn’t doing anything other than to help my mother in doing domestic jobs. Our father doesn’t earn much even to feed the home. One day I overheard my friends that they have stopped paying fees in school that everyone can go to school free. One day I got up early in the morning washed the plates, later took my bath, and immediately got dressed I sat in front of our house waiting for the other kids that were going to school so I can join them. I waited a bit longer when I saw them going, without any time wasted I joined them. At first, I felt discriminated against because the other kids were laughing at me. When I entered the school compound I saw everything was entirely strange, I saw the other kids were happily playing. A few moments later the bell was rung I saw all the pupils were going in one direction. They stood in a straight line I joined the line we prayed we sang the national anthem and pledge. Before the headmaster started talking I was picked up and one of the teachers called me up the devotion and asked me to follow him to the staff room. After I explained to them my plight they ended up accepting me in the school and I was registered”.
Mafereh further explained why she wants to be educated “I want to be educated because I desire to become a lawyer in the future so that I can redeem my family from poverty. Education is what I ever love that why I took the venture.
Mr. Kingsley Musa the class teacher of Mafereh “She is a brilliant girl that hardly talks whenever she is in class and hardly goes out for lunch, she will rather sit in class until after the bell rings to go home. The last time I interrogated her she told me she doesn’t have money to buy food so it’s needless for her to go out. The headmaster told us not to asked her out of the school even when she is coming with her local attire and slippers, the headmaster said if we decided to drive her out of the school she might get offended and developed a different mind-set about education which might stop her from coming to school. That is why I am paying more attention to her.
N’Mah Kamara the mother of Mafereh “One day when I came from selling Mafereh was not around. I asked our neighbors they said they didn’t see her, I became a bit worried. I continued to look for her until around 2 pm when I saw her dressed in her new dress coming with some school kids. I asked her where she was and she told me she went to school. I was surprised because I never took her to school. Mafereh is always passionate about school but being that we have some of our children going to school we can’t salvage the situation because we are not earning much that why we sent her twin partner Alusine to learn carpentry”.
N’Mah further wished her daughter well. “I pray that God gives her education being that she is interested in education I also pray she, someone, that will help her to achieve her dream,” She said.
When I was interviewing these people my body was covered with goosebumps, imagine a nine-year-old girl is going all out to be educated. She doesn’t have the opportunity but she already has the mind-set to be educated. If NGOs, Humanitarians and other organizations could just look at this story to help Mafereh, she could be a leader tomorrow which we might never know.