January 14, 2022
By Yusufu S. Bangura
In a bid to improve education in the country, the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE), on Thursday 13th January, at the Great Hall of the Milton Margai Technical University,Goderich campus in Freetown, held orientation for chancellors of six public universities across the country.
The orientation discussed issues around the New University Act (Universities Act of 2021), which established the offices of vice chancellor.
Giving the purpose of the orientation, Deputy Minister of MTHE, Sarjoh Aziz-Kamara, said the ceremony was to educate chancellors about the Universities 2021 Act.
He said President Bio appointed the chancellors because he has trust in them and bestowed on them the responsibility to run the affairs of the universities. The Deputy Minister said the meeting was also organised for chancellors to champion the course of higher education in Sierra Leone.
Minister of Technical and Higher Education (MTHE), Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, said the President, before now, was the chancellor of the university, but disclosed that, President Bio, in a bid to de-politicize the educational sector, decided to remove his hands in the administration of the university.
He also noted that the new University Act provides that those who will serve as chancellors must be individuals with high moral rectitude and have proven record and integrity as well as sound academic background and off a distinguished career.
“These are exciting moments for the country and the free quality education which started three years ago has changed the narrative. The country is now witnessing a different dynamics,” he said.
The university professor underscored that the chancellors are the heads of the university court, the highest administrative authority of the university.
“These chancellors will be responsible for all the university ceremonies, such as conferring degrees, diplomas and other certificates,” he added.
He further spoke highly of the university court which overseas various aspects of the university. “The court is the administrative head of the university,” he said and stressed the need for collaboration within the university.
He said President Bio has created room for independent chancellors and that this is a time for the vice chancellors to interact with chancellors to see how they can influence the academic prowess.
He spoke of new courses which the University of Sierra Leone has introduced in recent times and also spoke of the need for expansion in the universities.
Professor Wurrie urged chancellors to work together with the DVCs in a bid to restructure the educational sector in the country.
He further stated that they expect the chancellors to search for financial support for the universities both within and outside of the country.
He also called on the students to be innovative, creative, possess communication skills and be collaborative.
“I want all chancellors to know that they are unique people in the development process of the country, so they need to give support in every area where they found themselves. It is also clear that chancellors need to work with everyone including the ministry,” he said.
In a PowerPoint presentation, Chairman, Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), Professor Alyageen Alghali, mentioned among many other things that, personalities in the universities include visitor of the universities, whom shall be, according to the University’s Act, the President or his or her nominee, who may visit the universities, but not to intervene in the general governance of the academic and non-academic programs of the university.
Other officers of the university, he said,include,authorities of the university, chancellors, vice chancellors and principals, the pro vice chancellors, deputy vice chancellors/Deans of Campuses, the court, the senate, the registrar, and the finance director.
He said the authorities in general will be responsible for the efficient functioning of the universities as prescribed by the Act, vis-à-vis.
He said the universities were established to serve as teaching, research, examining body, and to provide technical, professional, community, as well as commercial services.
He also mentioned that the chancellors, among other things, will be the head of all ceremonial occasions, including the convening of the university convocations. “They will also be responsible to confer degrees, diplomas, and certificates of the university. The chancellors will also be chairmen of the university court, finance, and general purpose committee, colors and emblems committee, and the conditions of service committee,” he said.