By Bampia James Bundu
Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, has launched the Needs Assessment Study Report on Higher Education Institutions in Sierra Leone done by the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), in the Great Hall of the Milton Margai Technical University, Goderich Campus.
Chairman Tertiary Education Commission, Professor Aliyageen Mohamed Alghali, said the Needs Assessment Study on Higher Education Institutions in Sierra Leone is the first of series of documents to be published by the TEC on the status and needs of higher education institutions in the country.
The institutions captured in the report, according to him, include both public and private universities, polytechnics and teacher training colleges accredited by the TEC.
Prof. Alghali said the report was the result of holistic, painstaking collection and recording of data provided by survey participants in various accredited Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and on-site verification visits by TEC staff under his supervision. “The study is evidence-based, graphic and in some cases grim,” he pointed out, adding that the key indicators are good governance, financial sustainability, staff and programmes quality, relevance of academic programmes, parity of esteem community services and effectiveness and efficiency of the service delivery system.
He expressed thanks and appreciations to the dedicated and hardworking team who worked with him throughout, stating that the recommendations are in line with national and international benchmarks as well as the AU Agenda 2063 titled ‘The Africa We Want’.
Launching the report, the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, thanked the TEC for taking the bold step in evaluating and assessing the needs of public and private institutions across the country.
He maintained that the over 400 pages survey report now helps TEC to identify the strengths, weaknesses, skills and competency gaps in public and private universities nationwide.
The Minister recalled during the war in 1991 to 1996 upon the country’s return to democratic rule when the then government had a 40 or more million dollars support from the World Bank and the African Development Bank to uplift Sierra Leone to a basic operational level with focus mainly on primary and junior schools dubbed the Sababu Education Project.
He lamented that much input has not been made to higher education in the country, saying the launch of the report will help give life to it.
Professor Wurie informed that the TEC was created in 2001 with clear mandate to advise government on issues that have to do with tertiary institutions and also to ensure that there is quality assurance in Higher Institutions.
He noted that the Commission has been in existence for almost 20 years, describing the report as timely and one that will stand the test of time.
The Minister asked his audience to go through the recommendations and come out with solid action points.
Speaking on behalf of the Minister of Finance, the Deputy Director of Budget Madam Ilara Mahdi, described the report as timely more so when the Ministry of Finance is preparing the FY 2022 budget.
She assured the TEC of the ministry’s continued commitment towards providing enough resources to the education sector and informed that over the past three years the Ministry of Finance has been able to meet its target by providing 21% of the country’s budget to education, noting that by 2022 the ministry will be providing 22% budgetary support to education. This, she went on, is in fulfillment of His Excellency’s commitment towards human capital development.
Statements were also made by the British High Commissioner to Sierra Leone, the World Bank Country Manager, Head of EU Delegation in Sierra Leone, Embassy of Ireland, GIZ Country Director, among others.