By Jariatu Bangura
Members of Parliament on Tuesday unanimously passed into law the amended Universities Act, 2014 which will create for the establishment of the new President Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology with its constituents Magburaka University College, Makeni University College and Port Loko University College.
In his presentation, Minister of Education, Science and Technology, Dr. Minkailu Bah, said being an Act to amend the Universities Act for the purpose of establishing the Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology and the object of the bill, the 20th century was dubbed the century of the information society. This characterization, he said, recognizes that all aspects and factors of development are dependent on knowledge, that is, its generation, management and utilization.
He said the drivers of the world economy, including the economy of Sierra Leone in the coming years, are and will be technology, skilled human capital and research, and that the provision of education at all levels is an important constitutional obligation as provided for in Section 9(1) of the Constitution of Sierra Leone 1991, which states that “government shall direct its policy towards ensuring that there are equal rights and adequate educational opportunities for all citizens at all levels by ensuring that every citizen is given the opportunity to be educated to the best of his ability, aptitude and inclination by providing educational facilities at all levels and aspects of education such as primary, secondary, vocational, technical college and university”.
“Currently, there is unprecedented demand for higher education, the basis of which is the increased awareness of the vital importance of higher education for economic, social and cultural development, and also the increase in the number of secondary school leavers,” he noted.
P.C Bai Kurr Kanagbaro Sanka III of Tonkolili District commended the initiative of building many universities across the country as mining companies operating in the country bring along foreign geologists and technicians to work instead of employing local workers; a situation he said is derailing development in the country.
He said due to the lack of technology and science universities, school leavers are becoming a menace as there is no opportunity to travel to other countries in order to be specialized on different types of courses. He therefore appealed – through the government and the Education Ministry – for the construction of more universities to employ more youths across the country.
Hon. Hassan Sesay of Constituency 59 said the establishment of the university and its sub-colleges will embrace and help grow the economy where the mining companies are operating, as there will now be practical skills training for students that want to be specialized in courses that will at the end secure them good and better jobs.
He added that most Sierra Leoneans have been deprived [of good jobs] because of lack of skills.