Open Society Initiative for West Africa

Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) and IMAT College

The Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA) is a West African organization which promotes democratic values. OSIWA “believes that it best serves by sustaining catalyst and innovative initiatives that add value to the efforts of West Africa’s civil society.” OSIWA also believes in the value of cooperation with similarly minded groups and governments. OSIWA covers 18 countries, which include the 15 members of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), as well as Cameroon, Chad, and Mauritania. It supports civil society communities and advocates to governments on issues of governance; law, justice and human rights; public health and development; information, communication technology, and media.

The IMAT College Laws Department is partnering with Open Society Initiative for West Africa in promoting adequate understanding of the law across Sierra Leone.  The IMAT College is championing the Street Laws Public Legal Education Programme in Sierra Leone. The Street Laws Public Legal Education Programme is funded by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

The fundamental purpose of the Street Laws Public Legal Education Programme is to ensure that the layman in the street has an adequate understanding of the laws of Sierra Leone. At IMAT College, we believe that adequate understanding of the law is the foundation to a violent-free society. Therefore, the knowledge of the laws should not only be in the hands of legal practitioners but also to the layman in the street.

IMAT College organised a one-day Public Legal Education Programme at the IMAT International Secondary School, Kingtom, Freetown on the 19th October, 2018. The Programme is funded by Open Society Initiative for West Africa (OSIWA).

The IMAT College enlightened the pupils of IMAT International Secondary School on the Child Rights Act which was enacted by the Sierra Leone Parliament on the 13th Day of July, 2007. At the end of the programme, the pupils were able to understand who is a child, the rights of a child, the responsibilities of a child, the employment of a child, punishment for violating the Child Rights Act, and what they should do whenever their rights are violated. The Principal of IMAT International Secondary School, Mrs. Princella Bull was very delighted and that she recommended that the programme should be taken to other schools.

On the 27th October, 2018, IMAT College organised a one-day Street Laws Public Legal Education Programme for the Kingtom Community People at the IMAT College Campus.  IMAT College educated the community people on the Child Rights Act, the Domestic Violence Act and the Adoption Act.

Mr. Abu Bakarr Tarawally and Mr. Bambay, who were amongst those who participated, were very happy for the Street Laws Public Legal Education Programme. However, they raised concerns that IMAT College should try to work with laws enforcement authorities to ensure that these laws are implemented.

Ronissa Harleston and Favour Peters, who are students of the IMAT College, did their presentations on the Child Rights Act and the Domestic Violence Act. The Programme was chaired by the IMAT College Communication Officer who also did a presentation on the Adoption Act.

STREET LAWS AT THE GOVERNMENT MODEL SECONDARY SCHOOL
On the 16th November, 2018, the IMAT College went to the Government Model Secondary School to educate the pupils on the Child Rights Act of 2007. The pupils were taught on what their rights and responsibilities are, and what they should do whenever their rights are violated. They were very happy for the Street Laws Initiative.
One of the teachers, Mr. Francis B. Lebbie, said that he was happy for the initiative because the Street Laws Public Legal Education Programme is not only educating the pupils on their rights but also their responsibilities. He added that the initiative should be extended to other secondary schools and communities across the country. Mr. Lebbie stated that the pupils benefitted greatly from the programme because during the programme lots of pupils were very much eager to ask questions, which was an assurance that they were very attentive while the educators were doing their presentations. In explaining what the pupils learnt, Isata Sajor Barrie in JSS3 said that she had learnt a lot, especially on the section that deals with the employment of a child. She added that she had known that no employer must employ a child at night work. Night work is the work between the hours of 8:00pm to 6:00am. Christiana Koroma, a JSS2 pupil of the Government Model Secondary School, said that she benefitted a lot from the programme and expressed hope that other pupils benefitted. She said, “I benefitted a lot out of the programme because I now know something about the Child Rights Act, especially our rights as children and our responsibilities to our parents and other elderly people.”
Mrs. Agan, the principal, teachers and the pupils of the Government Model Secondary School were all happy about the initiative and hope that IMAT College would be coming around to educate their pupils on laws that affect their welfare through the Street Laws Public Legal Education Programme. This programme was published on Awareness Times and Standard Times Newspapers on the 21st November, 2018 respectively, and on New Age Newspaper on the 22nd November, 2018. It was broadcast on Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation and Freetown Television Network on the 16th November, 2018.

STREET LAWS AT THE FREETOWN SECONDARY SCHOOL FOR GIRLS
The IMAT College went to the Freetown Secondary School for Girls on the 23 November, 2018. The purpose of the visit was to provide a legal education platform wherein the pupils of the school can learn about the Child Rights Act which was enacted by the Sierra Leone Parliament on the 13th Day of July, 2007. The pupils were educated on the rights of a child, the responsibilities of a child, the employment of a child, and the punishment for violating the Child Rights Act of 2007.
The Junior Secondary Principal of the Freetown Secondary School for Girls said that she was very happy for the Street Laws Public Legal Education Initiative. She maintained that the initiative was timely and that her pupils had learnt a lot from the programme. She, however, suggested that the IMAT College should work with laws enforcement institutions across the country because the implementation of these laws is crucially important.
At the end of the programme, the principal, the teachers, and the pupils were very much happy and hope that the programme would reach out to other schools across the country. This programme was broadcast on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation and the Freetown Television Network on the 23rd November, 2018, respectively. It was also published on Standard Times and New Age Newspapers on the 26th November, 2018.

STREET LAWS AT THE GOVERNMENT ROKEL SECONDARY SCHOOL
The pupils of the Government Rokel Secondary School were educated on the Child Rights Act of 2007 by the IMAT College through the Street Laws Public Legal Education Programme with the support of the Open Society Initiative for West Africa on the 6th December, 2018. The pupils were educated on sections that deal with the rights of a child, the responsibilities of a child, the employment of a child, and the punishment for violating the Child Rights Act.
Speaking on behalf of the Government Rokel Secondary School, the head of the Physical Health Education Department said that the intervention of the IMAT College was very important because it had educated their pupils a lot on their rights and responsibilities as children. Mr. Samuel Kargbo, a teacher of the school, said that the initiative is very vital because it helps to disseminate pertinent legal information to pupils. He called on the IMAT College to continue and extend the initiative to other schools across the country.
One of the pupils of the school, Aminata Sesay, said, “I want to thank the organizers for this initiative, and we have benefitted a lot from such a brief lecture.” The principal, the teachers, and the pupils of the Government Rokel Secondary School were exceedingly gratified for the Street Laws Public Legal Education Initiative. The authorities of the school promised that they would uphold all the provisions of the Child Rights Act of 2007. This programme was published on the Awoko Newspaper on the 7th December, 2018 and on Standard Times Newspaper on the 12th December, 2018. It was broadcast on Radio Democracy, 98.1FM on the 6th December, 2018.

STREET LAWS AT THE ST. JOSEPH SECONDARY SCHOOL
The IMAT College provided a public legal education platform for the pupils of the St, Joseph Secondary School through the Street Laws Community Support Initiative on the 11th December, 2018 at the school compound. IMAT College educated the pupils on the Child Rights Act which was enacted by the Sierra Leone Parliament on the 11th Day of July, 2007, especially on the rights of a child, the responsibilities of a child, the employment of a child and the punishment for violating the Child Right Act of 2007.
When the Head Girl (Head of the pupils), Salamatu Sall was asked on what she learned, she said, “I learned that we should not be badly treated by anybody and we as children also have our roles and responsibilities we must abide by.”
The principal of the Junior Secondary was very happy for the initiative and added that they will always continue to give the IMAT College and other Human Rights Organisations the platform to educate their pupils. This programme was published on Awoko Newspaper on the 12th December, 2018, and on New Age Newspaper on the . It was also broadcast on Radio Democracy 98.1FM on 11th December, 2018, and on the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation respectively. It was also broadcast on Star Television on 11/ 12,2018.

From the report above, one would clearly understand that the Street Laws Public Legal Education Programme is a very good and timely initiative that has helped many students and communities in the Western part of Freetown. In an effort to ensure that our message gets across Sierra Leone, we involved over nine (9) media institutions across the country. However, we are hoping to extend the programme to the provinces and other parts of the country. At IMAT College, we are committed to provide public legal education platform for all Sierra Leoneans. We believe that an adequate understanding of the law provides a solid foundation for a violent-free society.