By Alhaji Haruna Sani
With funding and support from the World Bank’s Skills Development Fund (SDF) and the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education through the Sierra Leone Skill Development Project, the Armed Forces Technical College (AFTEC) has implemented the construction of three skill training centres across various Barracks in Freetown.
The three training centres were on January 10th, 2023 officially commissioned by the Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) through the Ministry of Defence (MoD). The centres were constructed and rehabilitated at Wilberforce, Juba and Murray town Barracks respectively.
An industrial tailoring classrooms and a rehabilitation of Electrical and Mechanical Engineering was done in Juba, while a Fish Processing Training centre was constructed in Murray town. Training classrooms for the Engineering Regiment and rehabilitation of the Hospitality and Tourism Management Classrooms were done at the Wilberforce Barracks all provided with small and large tools.
While officially commissioning the training facilities on behalf of the Ministry of Defence, Major General CF Marah, Chief of Staff, Ministry of Defence told the various military personnel in charge of the facilities to ensure that there is return of investment in the various facilities.
He encouraged them to hold firm to the culture of knowledge transfer so that thousands of both military personnel and civilians can be trained to become experts in their respective areas of trainings.
“We want citizens to be trained so that they can master various arts through proper and thorough training. There was a time when our own military men use to sew our uniforms and we want to revive those days,” he told the personnel in charge, adding that the facilities should be made available to the various communities around the barracks.
In their responses, the personnel in charge assured that they were going to effectively and judiciously manage the facilities for the very purposes they are meant for.
In his statement, Colonel Richard Bockarie, Director of Studies, AFTEC said the project is a big boost for the capacity building of military personnel. He added the next step is to expand the facilities so as to have an industrial unit with a line of production that would cater for a larger population.
Colonel Bockarie assured that the projects will help empower the youthful population and enforce the capacity of the force including all citizens that wish to undergo the training. He encouraged communities around the various barracks to grab the opportunity available around them.
The AFTEC Director of studies thanked the senior management of the Ministry of Defence, the Skill Development Fund through it secretariat. “I want to say a very big thank you to the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education for the astute leadership of the Minister through his astute support. We are pleading to the Ministry to upgrade our AFTEC status from C to B wherein we can award degree to our students.
Major SS Makieu, Register AFTEC said the institution is on the verge of graduating about 1000 students. He said last year about 150 students graduated. “The Skill Development Fund has promoted AFTEC with more structures and modern equipment which will enhance us to train more people,” he noted.
Lieutenant Colonel Unisa Saidu Daramy, Commanding Officer, Tailoring and Dress Making said they have trained hundreds of military and non-military personnel on industrial tailoring. He assured that the facilities and equipment provided was going to be used judiciously thereby reducing the high cost of importing of military uniforms by government.