David loves teaching chemistry and biology more than any other subjects. He majored in Aquaculture and Fisheries Management, and studied alongside chemistry majors until his fourth year. He credits his success to his Higher Teachers' Certificate (HTC) in Integrated Science and his teaching experience, both of which he obtained before entering university. He talks about his education, experience, and his vision of Sierra Leonean education in the future.
I excel in chemistry sometimes more than those who specialize in it. I received my HTC in 2008 then began teaching at a Catholic secondary school. I taught for three years without receiving a full government salary. The principal, who happened to be my father, denied me the opportunity. He reasoned that I was too young and that the school already gave me Le 150,000 (USD ~18) per month. He also said that I stayed rent-free in the school quarters and that my family fed me at home. Why should I worry about receiving government pay? I wanted and deserved the salary because I was a trained and qualified teacher. I had to receive a high recommendation from the District Education Director to finally get it. I used the money to go to university.
I attended Njala University in Bo from 2011-2015. It was not easy or cheap especially since I had to support myself to pay for practicals, photocopies, textbooks, internet browsing, and more. Sometimes l needed to get loans from the bank early in the month to pay for everything. My father helped me for one year but stopped when he realized I began to get money from the government. After settling all of my school debts, I finally received my official diploma in December 2018.
I always returned home on university breaks and holidays to teach regular classes at the Catholic school. I taught there full-time once I finished my first degree. By then my father retired as principal so I started experiencing many new challenges. Most of the teachers only had their HTC so they thought I wanted the principalship. They didn’t realize I had no interest in the position at the time. The senior teachers saw me as less qualified because I was their former student. The younger teachers disliked that I held a degree. The arts and commercial teachers didn’t like that I was the only qualified science teacher at a school with a pure science history.
Almost all of the staff began to intimidate me or make defamatory statements against me, including one of the acting principals at the time. They influenced pupils to harass me in school. Sometimes teachers would confront me with physical fights. They denied me use of the little laboratory equipment that remained at the school. They accused me of taking Tramadol and smoking marijuana and even influencing students to do the same. A big lie as I never even touched these substances. I feel that someone even tried to poison my food—one day after eating lunch from school I felt like I wanted to die. Later that evening I had bloody diarrhea.
These incidents happened during the four years that I taught in the school. I needed to leave. I filled out all of the proper paperwork for the newest acting principal to release me, but he refused. I tried moving to Freetown to teach at another school, but he blocked my salary to get me back to his school. I traveled back to my hometown to meet the District Education Director. He personally requested a release from the newest acting principal with the condition that I attach myself to another school within a week. I successfully found a position at a secondary school on the other side of town. I continue to teach there today.
I mentioned that I went to Freetown. Before going, I gave my teaching certificate and official documents to somebody I trusted. When I returned home, he said I never gave them to him. I went mad. Only last week did a miracle happen—my teaching documents reappeared. My stepmother gave them to me. I don’t know how she did it, but I appreciate her so much for finding them. Now I have the documents I need to apply for any type of job. God saved me.
My future goal is to study the sciences in America. Then I would return to Sierra Leone to become a principal and help young children. I want to bring a lot of practical learning to our schools. Practical learning helps children learn faster and understand concepts easily. In Sierra Leone we should encourage young talented teachers who possess the capability, strength, knowledge, and zeal to teach. Teachers should have a love for their job so that children can learn and become young talented people in society. We should avoid harassing young teachers as it will lead to a brain drain in Sierra Leonean schools. Even if these teachers go to live in other countries, they should visit Sierra Leone to help our communities.