October 2, 2020
By Yusufu S. Bangura
Academics across Sierra Leone have on Wednesday launched the High Level Task Force (HLTF) for the review of university curricular across the country, through the ‘Assuring Quality Higher Education in Sierra Leone (AQHEd-SL)’ in partners with British Council, Committee of Vice Chancellors and Principals.
The launching took place at Brookfield’s Hotel in Freetown.
Speaking during the ceremony, Project Director, Samuel Weekes said the project started in 2018 and that it’s one of eight projects in the consortium being supervised by the strategic partnership for higher education innovation and reform.
He said the project covers seven higher institutions across the country and that they also collaborate with external partners in specific areas, adding that they team up with the University of Illinois in delivering pedagogy training across all institutions and at various levels.
Director Weekes said that they would look at four main areas in the anchor institutions like, agriculture, electronics and electrical engineering, accounting and management and health sector, adding that they will also identify specific disciplines within the waterfall institutions in the country.
He continues that the objective of the project is to work towards improving the standards and quality of education in those higher institutions during the three year life span of the project, which is scheduled to end in September 2021.
He added that the project deals with four key disciplines among the anchor institutions.
He said in order for them to achieve their goals, various complementary strategies are used during the process of implementation which includes review of curricular across all higher educational institutions in the project, make use of stakeholders, employers and other professionals, who help to streamline the respective modules that will improve the employment opportunity for students after they graduate.
He mentioned that the pedagogy training is important for lecturers in all institutions and at various levels, to improve their skills in the delivery of the revised curricular and such trainings will incorporate gender issues and critical thinking.
In her own address, Country Director of the British Council, Kelly Fergusson, said they were proud to be part of the project that is being funded by the British people, and that ‘assuring quality higher education in Sierra Leone’ is one of the ambitious projects of the council.
She expressed strong belief that the project will bring together all higher institutions across the country with the aim of providing quality management and higher education, and to support the introduction and implementation of both lower and higher education.
She said the project aims to bring about students centre focus within higher education across the country, leading to a more responsive and capable workforce.
She said that the HGI are working with partners from the UK, USA and the 50/50 Group, adding that they have specific roles and responsibilities in working together towards establishing a collective understanding of solid, quality ensure fittings across higher education institutions.
“The launching of the high level task force is very important for us to collaborate on a greatest scale and to enroll and engage others through some of the most influential people in the country and I am delighted that you all have agreed to take on such critical roles in maintaining the momentum and guarantee the future sustainability in the country,” she said.
Giving the key note address, Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Professor Aiah Gbakima said he was happy now that the vice chancellors are working together because it makes no sense to compete against one another in a smaller country like Sierra Leone,emphasising the need to collaborate and strengthen one another rather than tearing themselves apart.
He said data collection within the universities is a very important instrument for education because they can know everything that is going on within the institutions as they oversee the education by giving them the support they need.
He continued that for the country to have quality education, the universities must have quality staff, who are well trained and qualified to do research that can support leagues of programs and scholarships, adding that the government is doing its best with the ministry to make sure that staff are trained.
He said the ministry has so many scholarships for students in the higher education institutions and that they also have scholarships for people doing research and they are also working hard to restore the size of laboratory in the institutions for science students.
He added that the ministry has given 30% money to a company for 440 projectors and white boards.