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Technical and Vocational Education – Key to Sierra Leone Development

By Gabriel Benjamin

Continued from last edition…

The design of Sierra Leone’s educational system is flawed. The neglect of technical and vocational education is an obstacle to national development.

Not everyone needs a university education. In Sierra Leone technical and vocational degrees are regarded as inferior to regular academic degrees.

But in advanced countries those with technical and vocational degrees are highly regarded. Individuals with years of field experience work in tandem with those with academic degrees.

In fact, the worth of every worker depends on the skills and knowledge and not on the stack of academic degrees the worker as garner over the years.

Sierra Leone must learn to blend theory and practical in its education because theories alone cannot serve any useful purpose in today’s crises ridden global economy.

Hence, one of the ways to spur the economy is to empower the people to tackle the developmental challenges facing the nation through technical and vocational education.

The various unions in the universities and institutes of higher learning should push for increased funding for technical and vocational education as part of the educational reforms in the “Agenda for Prosperity”.

The Ministry of Education should take up the campaign for more funds for technical and vocational education and to launder its image.

The nation’s technical and vocational schools should be brought to international standard by employing qualified teachers with field experience in the relevant subject areas, and bring on board experienced and professional administrators to run the technical and vocational institutions in the country.

Furthermore, as obtained in the developed nations, technical and vocational graduates should be thoroughly certified before they could work as technicians.

Sierra Leone is terribly lagging behind in preparing its labor force for the 21st century economy and challenges, as no nation would make any meaningful socio-economic stride without a well-equipped technical and vocational institutions.

It cannot be overemphasized that technical and vocational education is the engine for economic growth. No nation can fight a war without an army. In the same token Sierra Leone cannot develop without well-equipped technical and vocational institutions.

Suffix me to say that, well-equipped technical and vocational institutions are the missing link in the “Agenda for Prosperity”.

The United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) have noted that revitalizing this important sector of education is among the ways to improve economic and employment opportunities for the youth in this 21st century.

Owing to poor training, funding and ineffective technical and vocational institutions, Sierra Leone suffers from low productivity.

Because the progress of any society lies in the productivity of its citizens. Higher productivity gives a nation advantage of economies of scale and lowers the costs of production and prices of goods and services.

Sierra Leone should begin now to take very seriously investment in technical and vocational education as no nation can compete effectively in the emerging global market place with poorly educated and unskilled workers because the leading factors of production in the emerging global economy are said to be technology, knowledge, creativity and innovation.

The major policy speeches of President Ernest Bai Koroma these days revolve around his “Agenda for Prosperity” – Transforming Sierra Leone into one of the largest global economy.

Be that as it may, the political leaders and policy makers can give all the best speeches during international forum and business submits about transforming Sierra Leone into an industrialized nation, but they should be warned that rhetoric alone cannot make Sierra Leone an economic super-power.

President Ernest Bai Koroma “Agenda for Prosperity” will remain ‘a paper tiger’ without technical and vocational education being a major and integral part of the strategy.

To be continued…