Njala University Court has on Thursday, 4th May 2023, awarded Sierra Leone’s Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, an honorary Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) Degree in recognition of “his outstanding work across individual sciences and higher education in Sierra Leone.”
Professor Sahr Moses Gavao, the Chairman of the University Court and Chancellor of Njala University, opened the meeting and states its purpose: “In accordance with the Universities Act 2021, Section 4(b), a University shall have power to award honorary degrees to and confer other distinctions on persons approved by the University as having rendered distinguished services in the advancement of any branch of learning or who have otherwise rendered themselves worthy of such degrees. Also, Section 12(1) stipulates that “a University Court shall be responsible to determine the number and type of honorary degrees to be awarded in each session, and the names of the recipients.”
Professor Wurie was praised in the citation as one of Sierra Leone’s most distinguished Chemists and an accomplished politician whose work crosses the boundaries of individual sciences and has diverse and far-reaching practical applications.
“Our Honorary Degree awardee was appointed by the former President of the Republic Sierra Leone, Ahmed Tejan Kabba as Minister of Education in 1996 to 1998, Minister of Education Youth and Sport in 1998 to 2002, and Minister of Education Science and Technology in 2002 to 2007. During his tenure, he initiated major transformation in the education sector including among others the promulgation of the following Acts: Polytechnics Act of 2001, the National Council for Technical and Vocational and other Academic Awards Act of 2001, the Tertiary Education Commission Act of 2001, the Education Act of 2004. Professor Alpha Wurie’s professional and academic career has always been closely associated with higher education the reason why he is so familiar with the education landscape of Sierra Leone and even beyond,” the citation reads.
“In the field of Medicine, Professor Wurie also contributed considerably in establishing and strengthening laboratory services and systems as Proprietor of Ramsy Medical Laboratory as well as the establishment of an analytical laboratory to identify safe chemical levels and microbial contents in water, soil, food, and liquids. He has developed a stellar reputation as a scientific leader, and the University of Sierra Leone promoted him to the rank of Associate Professor of Chemistry in 2012 as a result of his numerous publications in international peer-reviewed journals,” the University’s Public Orator stated.
In his acceptance speech, Minister Wurie thanked the University for the honour, saying, “I am an Alumnus of Fourah Bay College, but from this day on, Njala becomes my family.”
“Our journey started many years ago. By creating the NCTVA and the Tertiary Education Commission in 2001, we laid the foundation for tertiary education. It was not until 2005 when the University of Sierra Leone was split into Njala University and USL. However, it would be beneficial to have different areas of specialisation, as His Excellency the President has instructed me that colleges should have specialisations in which they excel and are regarded as experts. As a result, I was extremely happy to hear you speak about veterinary medicine and to learn that the schools for agriculture and education are still in existence. While we now begin the School of Medicine, I do hope that as we move forward, we will consolidate on Schools of Agriculture and Education,” the Minister stated.
Professor Wurie continued by noting that His Excellency is directing that there should be a public university in every region of Sierra Leone and expressed his delight that the Administration had accomplished what was stated in the 2021 Universities Act for Bonthe Technical Training College to no longer be an affiliate of Njala but to be a Campus.
He acknowledged the need for ICT, infrastructure, water, transportation, teaching, and learning materials at the university and promised them of the cooperation of the Government of Sierra Leone in seeing to it that these concerns are resolved.
According to Minister Wurie, the Cabinet has approved the conversion of the EBK University’s Port Loko Campus into an autonomous University, which he proposes naming Ahmed Tejan Kabba University of Education and Technology.
Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Professor Bashiru Mohamed Koroma expressed gratitude and appreciation to the Minister for accepting the honour. He commended him for his support of higher education and his understanding of the value of it to the country’s long-term competitiveness.
Professor Bashiru Mohamed Koroma thanked the Minister for committing to the start of a Medical School at Njala University by October 2023. He informed him that a workshop had been organised to finalise the Medical School curriculum and that WAHO, COMAHS, and other reputable medical institutions would serve as reference sources for the operational document. A team of medical experts and regulatory bodies has been identified, according to VC&P, and they will be leading the process and creating a working document for the upcoming workshop.
He requested for the Minister’s immediate intervention while highlighting some of the University’s perennial challenges.
Attendees included the Wurie family as well as Deans of Schools, Heads of Departments, and other Administrative and Academic staff.