The expansion of the University Acts in 2005 and the University Amendment Act of 2014 respectively, resulted in the creation of these institutions, serving to ameliorate the problem of access to institutions of higher and technical education in all parts of the country. While these provisions have been a welcome development, they have come at a price. As well as the inadequacy of trained, qualified and experienced personnel, there is an urgent need for teaching resources, particularly relevant and contextually useful academic texts for delivering the curricula of these emerging institutions. The availability of high-quality textbooks written by Sierra Leoneans has always been a challenging issue at all levels of education in Sierra Leone. The market is saturated with non peer-reviewed pamphlets and other forms of publications by indigenous writers, whose quality, relevance and hence credibility are questionable.
Among the goals of the Association of Polytechnics is to design, develop and publish contextually relevant curricula resources for lecturers, instructors, teachers and students xxx. To achieve this goal, the Association has gone into a partnership with the Sierra Leonean Writers Series (SLWS; www.sl-writers-series.org) to take concrete steps into remedying the prevailing situation, by producing high-quality peer-reviewed textbooks in all subject areas.
SLWS’s goal is to get high-quality books in the hand of students to reverse the culture of poor teaching materials. In this regard
To students: We will put in your hands only high-quality textbooks.
To academic staff: We will help you acquire and strengthen the skills for textbook writing.
To Sierra Leone: We will reverse the culture of poor teaching materials in the country.
Vision of the Partnership
To be the leading and trusted producer of textbooks for polytechnics in Sierra Leone.
To effectively co-ordinate Polytechnics in Sierra Leone to produce textbooks for their students.
To establish an editorial advisory committee which will be responsible for:
overall supervision of the project;
scouting around for potential authors and encouraging them to submit book proposals;
rigorously vetting submitted proposals;
effectively managing the peer-review process and determining a token honourarium for reviewers; and organising training for authors selected through the peer-review process.
To identify and encourage competent Sierra Leonean scholars to write textbooks for polytechnics in the various fields of study;
To organise a credible and transparent three-stage peer-review process that will ensure high standards of the books to be published:
peer-review of book proposals;
individual peer-review of drafts submitted by authors; and
workshops to finalise draft manuscripts.
To engage in the publication process;
To raise funds for purchasing an agreed number of copies of each book published and sell to students on a cost-recovery with minimal profit basis; and
To launch an effective marketing campaign for published books.
The following activities are aligned with the strategic objectives of the project.
1) Establish an editorial advisory committee
The management of SLAP and SLWS will solicit nominations from the general public for experts to be considered to serve on the editorial advisory committee.
Prepare Terms of Reference for the committee: minimum qualifications, experience in the relevant field, credibility attained, length of term, number and types of meetings.
2) Identify competent Sierra Leonean scholars to write the textbooks
Solicit nominations for authors from the general public and pay attention to lecturers at the various polytechnics and other tertiary institutions in Sierra Leone.
Determine a list of transparent criteria for a SLAP/SLWS author.
Emphasise and encourage collaborative authorship; single-authored book proposals will also be accepted.
SLAP/SLWS committee will appoint authors after the review process and makes a public announcement of the selection.
Provide full support to selected authors, including funding writing workshops and provision of reference materials, including highly rated textbooks on specific subjects in other countries.
Take note of all comments received by users of the books so that revised editions will address the comments.
Determine a system of royalties for authors.
3) Set up a transparent and credible three-stage peer-review Process
Each title must start with a book proposal; all book proposals must be sent out for anonymous peer-review.
Determine when first drafts of books are submitted for next peer-review.
Determine when final book manuscripts are submitted for final peer-review at a workshop.
Reviewers can be sought (inter)nationally, drawing especially from tertiary institutions in Sierra Leone.
Review comments and responses must be filed.
4) Engage in the Publication Process
Expert typesetters of scientific texts will be identified in Sierra Leone and elsewhere.
SLWS will make books available on Amazon and at SLWS Bookshops in Sierra Leone.
All Polytechnics shall sell the books and report sales to the SLWS/SLAP committee.
SLWS will determine cost of publishing.
In consultation with SLAP, SLWS will determine selling price of books.
SLAP/SLWS committee will agree a prudent use of proceeds: to authors, to partners, to the advisory committee members.
5) Fundraising and Marketing
Determine the numbers of students that are likely to use the books by subject area in all polytechnics in Sierra Leone.
Based on the numbers, the Polytechnics will contribute to the printing costs of the agreed number of copies of each and every title published.
SLWS/SLAP will organise the launching of each title published.
SLWS/SLAP will produce banners and flyers and involve all forms of the media to publicise the books.