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Milton Margai, Eastern Polytech, now Technical Universities

July 12, 2021

By Jariatu S. Jusu

Members of Parliament on Friday, during the enactment of the University Act, 2021, approved the change of name for the Milton Magai College and Eastern Polytechnic to Technical University status, respectively.

The discussion on the Act, which started on Tuesday, 6th July, 2021, created a space for MPs from both sides to critically amend and input new ideas into the new Act, to match international standards and to stand the test of time.

The University Act seeks to repeal and replace the University of Sierra Leone Act 2005 (Act No.1 of 2005), to provide for the continuation of the University of Sierra Leone and the establishment of Milton Margai Technical University, the Ernest Bai Koroma University of  Science and Technology, establishment of Technical University of Sierra Leone and the Kono University of Science and Technology, to provide for the appointment of Chancellors of Universities by the President, to provide for the establishment of other public universities and private universities and to provide for other related matters.

Among the several amendments made were the change of name from Milton Margai College of Education and Technology to Milton Magai Technical University and the Eastern Polytechnic to Eastern Technical University, provision for the involvement of women in the decision making bodies and a representation of students from each university at the University senate.

Presenting the Bill on Tuesday for discussion, Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Professor Alpha Wurie, said Sierra Leone is one of the few countries that can boast of being exposed to tertiary education for 100 years, and the University Act came to effect after independence, but yet lagging behind in terms of improvement.

“I was the minister then in 2005,who came to this House of Parliament to ask for the repeal of the old University Act and replace it. That enabled Njala University to be an independent autonomous campus from the University of Sierra Leone,” he said, commending Members of Parliament then who were gracious enough to allow Sierra Leone to operate two public universities.

He disclosed that in 2014, Parliament again allowed the 3rd Public University to operate -Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology.

 He said in 2021 again, he was in Parliament asking for the House to amend the 2005 University Act and approve the 2021 University Act that will remove the President as the Chancellor of the university and also create space for additional three new universities.

He said for far too long in the country, much attention has not been paid towards improving the technical aspect of education, which plays vital role in development, assuring that the strength of the current staff at various institutions are capable enough to run at university level..

According to him, it is high time the country started having regional universities that will create the space for students in the provinces, to access university education which is their right.

Chairman of the Committee on Higher and Tertiary Education, Hon Mohamed Lansana, said Sierra Leone has lagged behind a lot in terms of higher education as stated by the minister.

He stated that the demand for access to tertiary education has increased considering the number of pupils that are getting requirement to be enrolled in universities and colleges.

He said the Eastern Polytechnic 2017/2018 academic year, the student population was 2350, in 2018/2019, it was 3477, while in  2019-2020, it recorded  a 15 percent increase.

He said out of the five regions, four are already enjoying university education, while the eastern region is being left out.

Making his contribution on the debate, Hon Abdul Kargbo said ‘only a ninja can stop a ninja’, expressing appreciation to the government for the reforms in tertiary education.

According to him, after graduating from MMCET with Higher National Diploma in Engineering, he was admitted at Fourah Bay College  (FBC) and placed in year 3, stating that all that was done in year 3 was a mere repetition of what he had already done at MMCET.

He supported the idea of having regional universities across the country to reduce the burden on students leaving their comfort zones to access university education in Western Area, where in most cases they are faced with daily challenges in accessing food and other basic amenities.

Leader of the Coalition for Change in Parliament, Hon Saa Emerson Lamina, said the citadel of higher education is gradually fading away like morning dew, as cultism and radicalism are dominating those institutions, emphasising that the curriculum be dynamic to meet modern trend of education.

He added that the three additional universities will serve the nation good and improve on the education standards.

On his part, Hon Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella, appreciated the decentralization process of education across the country, assuring that they will work with everyone towards ensuring the success of education.

He further appreciated the moves made by the president towards upgrading the colleges to university, thus calling for academics to be seen running-learning institutions so as to discourage political interference.

Hon Lahai Marrah said his people will benefit greatly from the establishment of the Kono University and called on the attention of the minister to see how best the government can utilize the building left behind by late Momoh Conteh, as a possible branch for the Kono University in Kabala.

After the passage of the Act into law, Leader of the Opposition, Hon Chernor Maju Bah, assured of their support towards the success of the Act  and also commended the Minister and President for the decision to have additional three universities.

He said education is not cheap so whilst “we continue yearning for new universities, we should be able to note that more funds are needed in order to achieve the desired goals. Having technical universities is good but they must be equipped. Subsidizing for higher institutions should always be considered. We are looking forward for students to be given the opportunity to practise in order to play a pivotal role in manufacturing and production than “to only read and write. 

Leader of Government Business, Hon. Matthew Nyuma, commended the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education for bringing such an educative Act, the opposition parties, Paramount Chiefs for the enormous support of the Act since the first day. 

“Today is a new dawn, investing in human capital is not a slogan but a cornerstone for this government. Despite the unbelief by many citizens and critics, but with this, it shows that this government can do it,” he said.

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