President Bio unveils skills development fund in Freetown as MMCET becomes technical university

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.

9 Comments

  1. Regardless of which party you support or which part of Sierra Leone you hail from or tribe, the lack of upskilling in our country has always been, and remains one of the impediments to any long term sutainable economic growth. The launching of this initiave is welcome. If MMCET becomes a techincal education centre, it will not only help train and supply talents for the future, buinesses are increasingly demanding for and rightly so for a multi skilled and technologically-savy adaptable workforce. Given the content of Sierra Leone, where government intiatives are packaged and sold like a public relation exercise, or gimmick projects that is dreamt off, and never see the light of day, it is important to recognise skills or a lack thereof has always been the major problem in our country.

    Back in the 80s, there used to be a Resident Agricultural Officer, who used to advise our local farmers, ‘AO’ they were called. As for Mr Abu, you should allow room for people to disagree with this Bio government. Because whatever way one looks at it, his government has failed o deliver on the promises he made to the people of Sierra Leone. It is good to make this announcement for public consumption, but what matters are the RESULTS, RESULTS!

  2. One thing that is obvious is that Education has always and will always be a priority for SLPP whenever they are in governance. President Maada Bio wasted no time to follow the footsteps of the late Prime Minister Sir Milton Margai and late President Tejan Kabba who launched the Sababu Project by investing in educational programs that will benefit the lives of our citizens as compared to the destructive APC party ideology of “Den say Bailor Barrie u say Davidson Nicol”.

    Unfortunately, based on the just concluded COI which was conducted by Nigerian, Ghanaian and Sierra Leonean judges, they concluded that the most corrupt institution under the past destructive APC party government was the education ministry under the leadership of Minkailu Bah that ran a criminal enterprise with (his godfather in stealing ) Ernest Koroma by chasing ghost teachers for 11 years. He was the only minister that was the “sacred cow” because he spent 11 years destroying the foundation of our educational system which is a direct reflection of the current WAEC result.

    Hopefully, this positive investment that President Bio is now embarking on will help transform the lives of the students who do not have the grades to enter university by engaging in vocational skills development rather than being high school dropouts. “Nations perish because of lack of knowledge” . May the Almighty continue to bless President Bio for his wisdom to invest in not only the Free quality education but for his wisdom to invest in technical and vocational institutions.

  3. Gentlemen – The Wise Speak in parables; I once knew a hunch-back that was a neighbor of mine that refused to acknowledge the bump on his back was a physical deformity and nothing to be ashamed of; But strangely he kept insisting that it was nothing at all, that it was just a minor back strain that would heal with time and go away on its own. My words were frowned upon, and I was totally flabbergasted to see the abysmal depths to which he had already completely sank in denial and delusions. Although I felt it my duty as a friend to help him come to terms with his ailment so that he could be relieved of the stigma of shame associated with his circumstance, it was all to no avail; My entreatings and efforts fell on passive deaf ears that soon transformed my neighbor’s responses towards me into violent outbursts of anger.

    So I decided to leave him alone – you can lead others beside still and quiet waters but cannot force them to drink or take a good look at the reflections of their faces on the mirror-like surfaces. My neighbor always easily reminded me of President Bio and his gullible SLPP tribalistic loyal supporters – try telling them the truth and you are considered to them as Public Enemy number 1. Who doesn’t know they are a bunch of freeloading amateurs, that are laughed at for putting carts full to the brim ahead of horses that are supposed to pull them?(lol) Poorly educated, arrogant authoritarians lacking in common sense, that’s who they are; Individuals tied up hopelessly in knots of their own ignorance and incompetence, forever imagining and guessing the simple differences between their knees and their elbows.

    Three years in power and still nothing to show for it but the crumbs and leftovers of these Huge SLPP feeders; Nothing but scraps scattered everywhere and debris from countless eyesores and ramshackle projects designed not to enhance progress but to score cheap political points.(lol) Good for nothings!

  4. Teaching is a tough profession, mostly because it comprises many components and skillsets. Aside from being a content expert, to be an effective educator you must also be proficient in areas such as interpersonal communication, managing large groups, assessment, evaluation, stage performance, and effective learning strategies. Despite intensive and extensive education in Sierra Leone, graduate faculty members often enter new positions feeling ill-prepared for their new roles as qualified teachers.

    One framework from which to deliver excellent opportunities for students to learn is to take the approach of a scholarly teacher. According to this position, teachers are qualified and are as dedicated to every aspect of delivering sound pedagogy as one is in acquiring her or his content expertise. It continues to be rare for faculty members in Sierra Leone to take a scholarly approach to teach, and many new faculty members enter the classroom with essentially no specific training in teaching and learning. Taking a scholarly approach to teaching, is quite difficult.

    How does one effectively become a scholar in eight to ten different areas? To do this, one must turn to scholars in those areas and seek their information and direction. As an industrial psychologist with over two decades in higher education, I realized very early in my career that to be superb at teaching I would require help from my colleagues. English faculty members who helped me learn how to better grade term papers, communication faculty who sparked me to give feedback on oral presentations, and an economics professor who showed me the value of well-constructed group work; I came to understand quickly the true value of my colleagues in developing my expertise as an educator.

  5. This President reminds me of man that had indiscriminately fathered a small army of children for whom he strove to do whatever he could. Their needs were diverse and many, so he fought and tried as best as possible to meet them all. Yet strangely, he never got to know the children or even their names.(lol) “This one’s you son,” a woman says, and SWOOSH out comes a wad of cash from the gullible father.(lol) He gave generously yet never knew for what exactly he was dishing out money and neither was he interested to know; “Who cares what it is for, It is my obligation as a father” he proudly boasted with a broad grin of his southern face. Gentlemen – this SLPP President aptly resembles that gullible father of a small army of children; his hands are always in the government coffers randomly dishing out money to every ill-advised, poorly conceived undertaking that is brought to his attention by his self-seeking tribesmen.(lol)

    Then one with a gap-toothed says: “We need a giant clock in Kenema, the old one will not suffice.” And SWOOSH…out comes a big wad of cash;(lol). Another tribesman close to him says, “Our loyal supporters in green are demanding SUV’s; what are we going to do now?” And again without any hesitations…SWISSH went the President’s pen, authorizing his incompetent Finance Minister to buy his loyal tribesmen brand new vehicles without further delay or feet-dragging, without any regard and consideration to poor market women laboring under the unforgiving burning African Sun; waiting and waiting forever, yet not seeing a single customer in sight. Totally unfair! Here he is pumping out billions of Leones, and not a word of approval or a whisper of resentment from his Minister of Education.

    These people are only playing guessing games with taxpayers money – pouring billions into unsupervised, poorly managed and shoddily implemented programs; Irresponsibly, they keep on wasting the peoples’ money without any regret and without care in the world.

    • As a stakeholder in the affairs of MMCET, I am obliged to respond to another of your ill thought message ever clouded by divisiveness, about any project in our homeland that is not situated in your favoured part of our nation. I tread cautiously not to stoop to your low levels. I am an alum of the MMCET, students president in my days, an academic, and current chair of the Milton Margai Alumni association, which gives me the credential to respond to your message, which was another opportunity to slag politicians on the opposite side of your divide.

      I have been involved in the process outlined by Prof Alghali, culminating in the pronouncement that MMCET ‘is going to become’ a Technical University. The next stage of this process is parliamentary debate and hopefully an approval. The process is well-intentioned, thorough, transparent and deserving, for reasons proposed in the application documents and stated at the proceedings on 6th December 2020 at the Goderich campus. I am aware of issues of political affiliation and challenges in administrative relationships, that have surfaced during this process.

      These issues do not offset the timeliness and potentials of technical and vocational education in our national development. Prior to the 2018 elections, I made a keynote speech on an education theme, wherein I drummed the necessity for nationwide establishment of technical and vocational institution, and therefore view this pronouncement as a step in this direction. With national development, I am blind to colours, regions, or persons!

      • Mr Abu – please lower the temperature. You are entitled to criticise what other commentators say but without personal attacks please. Thank you. Stargazer – please I do not expect you to respond in like manner. Thanks.

  6. Excellent Mr. President for your hardwork. I pray for everlasting help in our beloved country Mama Sierra Leone.

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