Abdul Malik Bangura: 25 July 2020:
The Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) has urged member states to collaborate in conducting academic research.
This point was raised during the discussions last Wednesday, 23rd July 2020 at the Joint Committees meeting of the Committee on Education, Science and Culture and the Committee on Information, Communication and Technology (ICT) of the ECOWAS Parliament held virtually.
During the session, the ECOWAS Parliament committees were to consider and also present to the plenary the referral from the ECOWAS Commission on: (1) Adopting the Rules for the Support Programme for Research and Innovation; and (2) Adopting the ECOWAS operational Strategy for Spatial Sciences and technologies.
Meanwhile, as the session continued, one of the ECOWAS parliamentarians who dilated on the significance of regional collaboration on academic researches, Honourable Chantel Fanny called on regional governments to teach at the preliminary stages all three regional languages such as English, French and Portuguese as she said this can help greatly in regional integration.
Deputy Speaker 4 of the ECOWAS Parliament, Honourable Adja Satu Camara Pinto spoke about the importance of research in Agriculture. She called on the ECOWAS Commission to look into issues of research on insecticides and flooding which she said are direct link to scientific research.
ECOWAS Commissioner on Education, Science and Culture Professor Leopoldo Amado whilst responding to points raised by the Honourable Members said the commission scientists are all working together irrespective of country of origin. He said it would be prudent to use traditional languages like Hausa, Madinka and Fullah which are non-Western languages to help in academic research.
Director of Education, Science and Culture at the ECOWAS Commission, Professor Abdoulaye Maga said that teaching the three regional languages has not been met. He cited that it is very difficult for West African schools to get expert teachers in all three regional languages, apparently because of what he referred to as funding issues.
In addition, Professor Abdoulaye Maga said that the harmonization of West Africa schools’ curriculum and certificates would be very difficult. Hence he said it would be very much not useful if we harmonize tertiary institutions’ curriculum and certificates without first of all harmonizing the primary and secondary schools curriculum.
Addressing and presenting the report of the ECOWAS Commission on Education, Science and Culture to Parliamentarians virtually, Mrs. Rachel Ogbe, Principal Programme Officer (PPO) on Education of the ECOWAS Commission, stated that ECOWAS seeks to achieve a number of specific objectives, the first being to develop regional criteria for the harmonization of pre-university qualifications, in particular the period of study, content of curricula, qualification assessment and other prerequisites for the establishment of equivalence of Member States’ accreditation systems.
This she said, will involve defining benchmarks/criteria to match university and professional qualifications in the region, draw up a list of courses in Member States’ universities as well as admission requirements, number of years of study, required credits and certificates.
Other specific objectives contained in her presentation will be to clarify the classification of academic qualifications (certificate, diploma, bachelor’s, master’s, doctorate, etc.) in Member States and develop a road-map for the implementation of the ECOWAS Convention on equivalence of certificates.
Dr. Emmanuel Johnson, thank you prof. We need type like you people in our country to educate us more, but the only trouble I have with you is, using big English terms. Most of us will just read it but understand nothing. You gat to slow it down, minimize it so that we can learn from you better. I do really admire your writing. Some of our brothers like Sahr Matturi, Abraham Jalloh are very intelligent as well. I love them all. May God bless and protect our sweet Sa/Lone.
Thank you Mr. Brima Sesay, for your acknowledgement. Your complement is something that I have always wrestle with mind and soul. Traveling abroad, and working in different fields, I have always been struck by the level of praise my fellow Sierra Leoneans get by other foreign nationals. I guess Sierra Leoneans around the world will confirm my observations. The degre of honesty, attitude to work we display, fear of authority, the commitment we show to our host countries, being kind to others
and not known to involve in fraudulent activities in the western world, or which ever part of the world, we happen to reside in.
Sometimes when you tell a foreigner you are from Sierra Leone, they can’t place their finger on it, even if you have the benefit of the globe in front of them. For most foreigners, the only country they seemed well versed about, is our Nigerian brothers. We are highly educated, and work in different sectors around the world. And we are highly valued by our employers. My question is why can’t we show the same degree of commitment to our country? The answer is simple. The corrupt environment our politicians have designed for us since independence. The way our governance system is set up. And most importantly, there is not a robust system set up to audit and track every penny spent by the government for the benefit of all. Government procurement programmes is a fertile ground for would-be corrupt officials. May God bless Sierra leone.
Many thanks Mr Brima Sesay for your compliment and may God bless you.
Why are certificates obtained in Western educational institutions better rated than our African institutions? The answer is simple, its lack of investment in our education systems. We have one of the highest illiteracy level in Africa. The Seychelles, Equatorial Guinea, South Africa and Sao Tome And Principe have the most educated populations. Sierra leone used to be known as the Athens of West Africa. Indeed Fourah Bay college was established on the 18th February 1827. This great institution was excellent learning centre for the West African sub-region. ECOWAS is urging its member states to collaborate on academic research.
The trouble with that, is not enough collaboration going on between educational institutions. Students exchange or even cultural exchange between member states is non existence. Language barrier is another major stumbling block. Regional integration can only be possible if we have a common language. At the moment the dominant languages are Portuguese, French, and English. Professor Leopoldo Amado, whilst he commended the scientists working together in their research institutions irrespective of country of origin, he proposed it would be prudent to use traditional languages like Housa, Madinka and Fullah.
These three languages are wildly spoken in the West African sub-region and beyond. It is possible to do it. China, India, Korean, Japan, they all develop, using their languages. Just like they did with the proposal of monetary union the ECO, the French will go all out to undermine any proposal to replace the French language. We can’t do anything to develop West Africa without the approval of our neo colonial powers. And which country will pick up the burden of supporting such programmes? It will be costly for countries that depend on IMF bail outs.
Quality assurance costs money and time of highly experienced individuals. Though effective, system-wide program accreditation is costly and involves large numbers of individuals and complex logistics. The cost per program accredited can be as high as US$5,000. For countries with many programs, these costs could be unbearable if the exercise went on with quality. Added to this are the costs for running a national agency (estimated to be up to US$2 million per year) and costs to institutions for implementing improvements on programs are inadequate quality.
Without adequate funding, the quality of quality assurance processes, and hence the credibility and integrity of their outcomes usually threatened. Countries need to make frank assessments of their financial capacity to undertake the range of quality assurance activities and tailor their systems to their unique financial situations, and to their human resource constraints.