August 8, 2017 BY Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
The former flag bearer of the main opposition Sierra Leone’s Peoples and Party (SLPP) and head of Kanded Kollleh Yumkella (KKY) Movement, Dr. Alhaji Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, has on Thursday, 3rd August, 2017, defended a comment he made on Voice of America radio about the standard of education, making reference to Peace and Conflict Studies Department, University of Sierra Leone.
Dr. Kandeh’s statement was greeted with series of angry reactions from university authorities at Fourah Bay College (FBC) and Njala respectively.
Students of the Peace and Conflicts Association, in a press conference at Sierra Leone Association of Journalists (SLAJ) headquarters, condemned Dr. Yumkella’s comment on the relevance of their studie, stating that his statement was unfortunate and derogatory.
The Department of Peace and Development Studies, Njala University, viewed such statement as ill-fated, misguided and a complete show of academic immaturity.
“As a sister institution ,Njala university stands shoulder to shoulder with USL in condemning Kandeh Yumkella’s unwarranted outburst and urge past and present students to completely ignore the inexperience politician as he struggled to meander his way into national politics in Sierra Leone,” the statement reads.
A senior lecturer in the Department of Peace and Conflict, Teddy Foday Musa, also criticised the statement, stating that their graduates were marketable in Sierra Leone and around the world
Speaking at the inaugural ceremony of the council of Technical and Vocational institutions in Sierra Leone at the British Council Hall in Freetown, Dr. Yumkella emphasised that there was need for an overhaul of the country’s educational system.
“I have created a lot of debate this recent week because I raised the issue of aligning curricula to our realities and also the realities of the world. My comments about disciplines such as peace and Conflict Studies and many others doesn’t mean to put down any profession but rather to mobilise action to align learning and skills formation,” he said.
He said as a nation “We must endeavour to train the youth for their future. The country has to look ahead ten to twenty years what skills would be required to grow our economy.
“Investment will go away and macro policy exists that is stable and predictable and where there are skills, foreign direct investment or even domestic investment are not challenged. Training for our children for the future would be necessary so that they can earn jobs. This means the curricula must be changed to enhance students’ employment,” he stated.
Dr. Yumkella stated that the role of technical and Vocational institutions cannot be overemphasised, adding that without them the country’s institutions would have collapsed.
He revealed that a world Bank demographic simulation for Sierra Leone in 2013, projected that demand for junior and senior Secondary school will increase by 128% and 140% respectively, and that if the annual growth rate for public higher education stays at 11% per year as it did from 2005-2013, enrolment in tertiary education would double by 2018 and quadruple by 2025.
He furthered that, there was need to get education right, having functional school system and that the tertiary and higher education system should be anchored on definable national goal and objectives for overall progress of the nation state and its citizens.
He highlighted that there was urgent need for the upgrading of tertiary education, infrastructure, management and curricula in general.
“In 2014,our country completed its first specialised Labour force survey in three decades since 1984.The result of the survey which covered 4,200 households and over 20,000 individuals published in 2016 showed that there was need for Technical training in critical fields,” he said .
He however said that he was aware of the challenges the University of Sierra Leone and other tertiary educational Institutions were facing in the country, but stated that more was needed to be done by the government and partners to improve the educational system in Sierra Leone.