October 1, 2019
By Jariatu S. Bangura
The Science and Home Economics labs and the Government Technical Institute building of the Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology located in Magburaka and Port Loko districts, northern Sierra Leone is dire need of refurbishment.
As part of their oversight functions, last week, the committee on Technical and Higher Education visited the university campuses where they discovered that the Science and Home Economic labs needed critical refurbishment as equipment in those labs were mere carcasses.
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One of the lecturers, Marion Jigba said the sewing machines stored at the Home Economics lab were scrap, adding that students offering the course were starved of using the equipment.
She told the committee that their Head of Department was aware of their predicament, but nothing has been done to salvage the situation.
She explained that taps installed in the labs have run dry and has negatively affected the practical work; hence calling on the committee to intervene.
The Vice Chancellor and Principal of the Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology (EBKUST), Prof. Edwin Momoh, said they have been looking forward to meeting with educational stakeholders.
He said the vision of EBKUST is to be a worldclass African university that is dedicated to excellence in teaching, research and innovation, and service that would result in the production of a critical mass of graduates that possesses the right mix of knowledge, skills and competencies to be self-reliant and to transform their communities, the nation and the world at large.
“EBKUST is committed to promoting quality education, grounded in Science and Technology that empowers self, community, nation and the world. We are also opening windows of opportunity for all to access functional knowledge, skills and competencies,” he said.
He said the university is highly indebted to government and suppliers in the form of NASSIT, PAYE, EDSA and other suppliers for goods and services, adding that staff and students’ accommodation is also another serious challenge the university is facing.
He said the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education through the Ministry of Finance has committed Le6.4 billion to the institution that was due in December, 2018, but that they have only received Le183 million.
He said only two quarter subvention have been received amounting to Le13.30 billion and their wage bill from January to June 2019 is Le 13.20 billion.
He stated that the Minister of Lands and the Environment had made a site visit at the Magburaka campus, which has made land demarcation progressing undisturbed.
“The issues of the Makeni land remain unresolved. Also, Government Technical Institute at Magburaka needs to be rehabilitated,” he said.
The varsity don said that fee collection has been a perennial problem especially in the distance education program, which he attributed to the geographical spread of the program and the absence of community banks.
Director of Distance Education at EBKUST, Dr. Saidu Kamara lamented that the programme has faced a lot of challenges since its establishment in 2005, adding that they used to operate in Makeni, Kabala, Pendembu and Magburaka.
“It is high time these students got some form of facilitation. Through this support, they will be able to return to their various communities to render their services during holidays or even when they would have finished their courses. We should encourage them to be retained at the villages to teach,” he said.
He said though there are challenges of inability to pay tutors and difficulties of sponsorship, there have been a number of progresses made so far.
A Member of the committee, Hon. Hafiju Maada Kanja said the science lab at EBK University is far better than that of Fourah Bay College and Njala University as there are some instruments that could be seen in the former, but the later has an empty lab.
The committee however recommended that the Science lab officials prepare comprehensive concept note based on their needs and submit it to the committee within the shortest possible time.