Sierra Leone Telegraph: 10 June 2018:
Sierra Leone’s economic recovery is far too reliant on the mining industry, especially iron ore export, which in the last six years has experienced serious turbulence, as a result of the 2014 Ebola outbreak and global economic downturn.
If the economy is to recover and start growing again, there must be a concerted strategy aimed at diversifying the economy. Key sectors such as tourism, forestry, building construction, fishing, agro-processing, and manufacturing, must be prioritised by the government.
But the growth potential of these sectors cannot be realised without investment in skills development through vocational training, using a sectoral approach.
For far too long vocational training in Sierra Leone has been regarded as the dumping ground for young school dropouts and those less capable of making the grades to university, with the disastrous consequences of producing an unskilled labour force that is unfit for the labour market.
This has to change, if Sierra Leone is to compete with other countries such as Rwanda and Ghana as a destination for foreign direct investments in knowledge-based industries.
Hence, it is encouraging news to see that the Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) has established a technical and education college of its own, with the hope of helping to raise the quality standards of vocational skills training in the country. More needs to be done, but it’s a good start.
According to report from the military, the new institution was approved last week by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC). On the Certificate of Registration dated 30 May, 2018, TEC stated that the Armed Forces Technical and Education College (AFTEC) “having fulfilled all the conditions provided in the TEC Act 2001 has been duly registered as a Certified Tertiary Education Institution”.
At the Technical Planning meeting held at the Conference Hall of the Armed Forces Educational Centre (AFEC) in Wilberforce, the Commanding Officer of AFEC, Lieutenant Colonel Richard Bockarie said that the mission of the college is to provide quality education for professional career development for military personnel, their dependants and the general public by providing marketable skills, training and relevant tertiary education.
Lieutenant Colonel Bockarie confirmed that the college would open its doors for business in October 2018. He said the college would kick off with National Vocational Certificate (NVC), National Technician Certificate (NTC) and National Diploma (ND) courses.
Highlighting the courses for the various programs of study, Lieutenant Colonel said the courses for the NVC would include masonry, carpentry, metal work, tailoring, and refrigeration.
He added that the NTC courses would cover business studies, catering, computer science, automobile technology, building technology, electrical and electronics technology, mechanical technology and fashion and designing.
He further added that the National Diploma courses would cover business administration, electrical and electronics engineering, accounting and finance, food and beverage production, software programs, computer hardware engineering, mechanical engineering, building and civil engineering, automobile engineering, fashion and designing and nursing (Diploma).
The Director of the National Council of Technical, Vocational and other Academic Awards (NCTVA), Alhaji Mohamed Jalloh commended the RSLAF leadership for the brilliant decision to establish the college.
He said that the various courses would help both military personnel as well as the public to acquire skills that would help meet the country’s labour skills shortage requirements and challenges.