SHAME ON OUR UNIVERSITIES
THE ETHICAL QUANDARY OF FINANCIAL BARRIERS IN SIERRA LEONE’S EDUCATION SYSTEM
By Chez Winakabs
In Sierra Leone, pursuing higher education should be a path paved with merit and opportunity, not hindered by financial barriers and undue burdens. Yet, the alarming trend of demanding payments for university application forms, interview fees, and other expenses has cast a shadow on the integrity of our education system. This systematic practice not only deepens the divide between the privileged and the marginalised but also undermines the fundamental principles of fairness and equal opportunity that should define our educational landscape.
Higher education serves as a beacon of hope for aspiring students, a gateway to new horizons and limitless possibilities. However, when universities prioritise monetary gains over the merit-based selection process, they perpetuate a cycle of inequality and exclusion. By demanding payments for application forms and interviews, our institutions of higher learning are effectively shutting the door to the dreams and aspirations of many promising students. These payments go as high as 900 new Leons.
This practice disproportionately affects students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds, who are already grappling with many challenges on their educational journey. Forcing these students to bear additional financial burdens is not just an inconvenience; it is a gross injustice that robs them of the opportunities they rightfully deserve.
The implications of these unethical practices extend beyond the individual students. They reflect a systemic failure that erodes the very foundations of our educational ethos. They speak of a culture that prioritises profit over principles and convenience over conscience. As a society, we must question the moral implications of a system that places financial barriers on the path to knowledge and self-improvement.
It is time for our universities to reflect on their role as custodians of knowledge and social mobility. They must reevaluate their priorities and commit to creating an educational environment that is inclusive, accessible, and fair. The duty of our academic institutions should be to nurture talent, foster intellectual growth, and cultivate a culture of meritocracy.
To achieve this, our universities must implement transparent and equitable admission processes that do not discriminate based on financial means. Fee waivers, scholarship programs, and other support mechanisms should be put in place to ensure that no deserving student is denied the opportunity to pursue higher education because of financial constraints.
Sierra Leone’s educational system has the potential to be a catalyst for positive change, social mobility, and national development. Let us not taint this potential with the stain of inequality and injustice. Let us instead strive for a future where every young mind can flourish and contribute to the betterment of our nation. It is time for our universities to rise above the shame and pave the way for a more fair and ethical educational landscape.