Sierra Leone Telegraph: 7 December 2020:
Yesterday, Sunday 6 December, President Dr Julius Maada Bio launched a £231,000 (Le3.5 billion) Skills Development Fund to build the capacity of the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology (MMCET), which has now achieved a Technical University status.
Located in the far west of the capital Freetown, MMCET was established in 1963 and operated under the name of Milton Margai Teachers College – named after the country’s first Prime Minister, Sir, Milton Margai, offering and delivering Teacher’s Training Certificate and Teacher’s Advance Certificate courses, before becoming a technical and vocational education institution (TVET) a few years ago.
Speaking at the event, President Bio said that his government acknowledges the appalling state and neglect of technical and vocational education in Sierra Leone – from the lack of clarity about the Technical, Vocational, Education and Training (TEVT) mission, to challenges with perceptions of TVET education, the curriculum, funding, locations, and many more other negative issues.
“We believe, among other things, that a skilled and resourceful labour force can unlock rapid national development through relevant training in science, technology, and innovation.
“Workforce development through basic training, reskilling, and upskilling is the precursor for innovation, manufacturing, and for economic transformation. So our investments in education are guided by two key questions: What skillsets will a productive Sierra Leonean need over the next twenty years, and what skillsets do we need for economic expansion?” the president said.
President said that those were the questions that inform his government’s policy on technical and vocational education, and guiding his government’s thinking on transforming polytechnics into technical universities.
“We believe that technical universities should help advance our strategic goals in the technical and vocational training sectors more vigorously. Students must be granted the opportunity to achieve the highest qualifications in technical education from an accredited university,” he said.
President Bio further asserted that there must be a clear pathway from technical secondary education to degree level education and training, adding that this would remove the perception of inferiority associated with polytechnics as learning institutions, and should create advanced career and training possibilities for young people.
“It, therefore, gives me great pleasure to launch the Skills Development Fund valued at Le3.5 billion and formally commission the series of infrastructural improvements I have already highlighted,” he concluded.
Principal of MMCET, Dr Philip John Kanu, said he is grateful for the transformation of the college into a technical university, referring to the leadership of President Bio as “focused and transformative in making Sierra Leone a great nation”.
Dr. Kanu noted that it was a joyous day for the college, community, staff, and the parents of the school because the new status of the institution would support development in the country. He recalled that in 1992 as Head of State Julius Maada Bio upgraded the college into a degree-awarding body.
“Mr. President, it is like you are destined for the development of this college. You have shown to this college that you are truly the champion of Human Capital Development,” he said.
Dr Kanu said that the college has made tremendous progress in supporting the education and development efforts of the nation, adding that the vision of the forefathers of the college is not lost.
“The transformation of the college into a technical university will provide a state of the art lab, a robust administrative system, robust ICT that ensure a digitally run campus,” he concluded.