By Sylvester Samba………
The Peace Mothers in the Kono district have expressed strong concern over the lack of quality education in their district. During a one-day stakeholders meeting held in the New Senehun City Hall on Wednesday, April 9, they sat with five paramount chiefs from across the district. They included P.C. Paul N. Saquee of Tankoro Chiefdom, P.C. Tamba E. T. Foryoh of Soa Chiefdom, P.C. Aiah B.F. Ngoungou of Gbane Chiefdom, P.C. Edward Mbawa of Gbane Kandor Chiefdom and P.C. A. B. Soloko of Toli Chiefdom. Also present were Honourable Frederick S. Sourie of Constituency 23 and councilors of both the district and the municipality.
With the deputy mayor acting as chairman for the meeting, there was a well organized and quite lively dialogue between the women and their elected authorities. With the help of Fambul Tok the Peace Mothers were searching for answers to questions that bother them. The women are indeed aware of the many problems that hold them back and they know something ought to be done about them, what to do and how to do it is what confounds them.
The women wanted to know what the criteria are there for opening schools in their communities. Schools mushrooming in the district cause this concern, but which make no positive impact in the development of their kids and the district. They also wanted to know if there is a code of conduct for teachers to guide their relationship especially with the girl child. Concerns were also raised regarding the proper use of school subsidies, the refusal of trained teachers to work in the communities and the lack of a college in the district.
It emerged during the meeting that not all is lost for the women of Kono. For one thing, they have been blessed with a young forward-looking mayor who strongly believes in the need to educate and empower women. But she also believes that women should show more interest in development issues by attending meetings and making their voice heard. She emphasized that the scourge of early marriage and teenage pregnancy, an outdated land tenure system and queer traditions like “name calling“ for women in labour can be better addressed when the women are sitting with men to plan.
Apart from the concern over poor educational standards, questions were also asked about how to properly administer justice in rape cases. The women are worried that the perpetrators of rape live in the communities with impunity.
As a whole the women and the stakeholders were quite happy that such a conversation has started. The women before now had an impression that they were being deliberately kept out of development planning. The authorities on the other hand thought that the women were not interested enough, but simply satisfied that the men decide in good faith.
Not all of the concerns raised were satisfactorily answered. For example, the source of council resources/revenue was not well answered. Neither was it very clear whether the chiefs wish to embrace women as eligible to contest for paramount chieftaincy but are prevented from doing so by the constitution of the republic.
But the conversation has started and it could only be a healthy thing for our peace and democracy.