Sierra Leone has registered over 200,000 candidates for the 2022 West Africa Senior Secondary School Certificate Examination (WASSSCE). This is according to Prof. Alpha Tejan Wurie, Sierra Leonean Minister of Higher Education who was speaking to newsmen on the country’s Higher Education Policy Framework in Freetown.
The minister underscored that government has made major gains in education through the Free Quality School Education program.
He said the purpose of the press briefing was to appreciate the steps the Ministry is taking to accept those going into higher education for specialist trainings, the reason why they have met with Vice Chancellors and Principals of various universities and colleges and agreed on a number of resolutions.
According to Prof. Wurie, one of the resolutions has to do with when the academic year starts and ends. He informed that as has been the case over the years, this academic year will start on 15th October 2022 and end on 15th June 2023.
“This timeline can be achieved by the universities making use of improved technology. This means, application, registration, assignments, elections, etc will be done electronically”.
The minister furthered that another resolution is for those doing Diploma in Arts and Humanities who were asked to complete their WASSCE after Diploma before proceeding to degree programs.
He explained that such students will now proceed to Year One degree with their Diploma Certificates while those who get 3.6 Grade proceed straight to Year Two.
He added that for those in the Sciences, there will be a reintroduction of Preliminary Year as it used to happen in the past. He emphasized that Foundation Year strengthens students in certain areas that they are somewhat not so strong, adding that he is a product of Preliminary Year which in no way limited his ability to perform well in university as he was able to get his PhD within ten years.
Speaking on scholarships, Prof. Wurie said it is divided into three parts – the national grant-in-aid, international awards and the student loan scheme. According to him, the student loan scheme will start this academic year with Postgraduate students, focusing more on those who already have a job and can pay back easily and be traced with less difficulty.
The minister pointed out that the student loan scheme will not require people to pay back immediately after their degrees. “The scheme will give them time to get a job and settle in those jobs and divide the money over a number of years so as to ensure they pay back with ease”.
He concluded by underlining that government recognizes that the growth of the country depends on human development which is why the government of President Julius Maada Bio is investing in quality assurance and the much needed growth the country should have.