Abayomi Tejan Snr: Sierra Leone Telegraph: 14 August 2020:
The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces Technical College is on the move, up and running since the start of this academic year. The college is a flagship project of President Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, and is placed under the leadership of Colonel Bockarie (Photo below).
The College campus is situated at Wilberforce Barracks, in close proximity to the infantry battalion and the 34 Hospital.
Specialising in skills development, the curriculum is designed to cater for a wide variety of technical and vocational occupations and trade, including building technology, electrical and electronics, automobile engineering, computer science, business administration, purchasing and supply management, refrigeration and cooling system, catering, tailoring, motor mechanics, food and beverage manufacturing and agriculture.
The first cohort of students, about one hundred currently enrolled at the college are living in campus accommodation to ensure punctuality and maximum concentration on studying. But more funding support is needed.
The fees and charges are affordable and well within the means of middle level income earners, but government should provide more support in that regard by way of scholarships and grant in aid to attract more students, especially the youth who cannot afford to pay those fees.
Focusing on the development of practical skills and technical knowhow is the methodology employed by the teaching staff; students are sent on internship in various institutions to gain work experience in various disciplines, and to prepare graduates for immediate employment in areas where there is acute shortage of qualified human resource capacity to drive national economic growth and reduce unemployment among young people.
The college, however, has not been spared the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries such as Sierra Leone are the most affected because of inadequate medical facilities. After going on a recess for over a month now, the college has resumed classes last week, and students may take their final NCTVA examinations by the end of this year or in January next year.
In as much as students are charged affordable fees, there is need now for the government and the country’s international development partners to render logistical, material and financial assistance with a view to transforming the college into an advanced technical training ground for the development of middle level human resource required by the job market.
Economic analysts are suggesting that the college might very well be the key to solving the country’s youth unemployment and the dearth in qualified technical human resource capacity in the country.
With a technical certificate from a recognized institution such as the Armed Forces Technical College, graduates would be put in a good stead to set up and run their own private business, enter into private partnerships and to bid for public contract tenders for the procurement of goods and services throughout Sierra Leone.
I think this technical training college is good for the country. This is what Germany is good at. And I dare say why German industrial products are well sought after around the world. Think of BMW, Audi and the famous Mercedes Benz. If we want to move our country forward, these are the practical and smart ways of developing our country. These vocational and or technical training colleges should not be limited to Wilberforce Barracks alone, but should be established in every district, town and village around the country. Of course supported by the government and private enterprise, that stand to benefit more, by employing highly skilled workers.
Above all else provide jobs for the youths. Its a win win situation for everyone concerned. Because if the youths are engaged, there will be high degree of responsibility placed on them, instead of roaming street corners in “DEVIL HOLE”, abusing substance or drugs which is becoming more of a problem in today’s Sierra Leone. You should give credit where it’s due. In retrospect, this is why President Bio was elected to lead the nation. To lead our country to positive change. Something we are desperately in need of.
On this occasion he’d showed he is capable of making positive changes if he puts his mind to it. So far, the trouble with his presidency and the way he governs the country, he keeps flip flopping from one extreme to the other. People don’t know whether to take him at face value, or play the wait and see game. With President Bio, you don’t know what is coming out of his rabbit hat. Naturally, Sierra Leoneans are confused as to whether we are dealing with one president Bio, or two characters fused into one. WILL THE REAL PRESIDENT MAADA BIO, PLEASE STAND UP? May God bless the republic of Sierra Leone.
This is a welcomed development in addressing the dearth of middle level man power in Salone’
Whatever happened to the Technical Institute Magburaka (TIM), Technical Institute Kenema (TIK), and the Technical Institute (Congo Cross). In addition we had the OIC in Bo Makeni and Bonthe. These were valuable institutions that fed into the Working Force highly trained and experienced skilled workers. TIK for example had alumini like Emmanuel Tommy who was the Chief Architect that built the pastoral centre in Kenema. Tommy later became member of parliament for Kono district, where in 2007, he defeated Chief Sam Sumana in their home town.
After the war, most of these institutes were merged into community colleges and they dropped the technical education in place of academic stuff alone. Today you have building contractors, plumbers and electricians parading our streets causing untold suffering to property developers as they do more damage to your property as quacks.
I would suggest that these institutions become separated from the current structure and that the government puts more funding at their disposal.