Sierra Leone’s Deputy Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Sarjoh Aziz-Kamara has said the role of the university in supporting national development is pivotal.
He was speaking at the graduation of over 1,500 students from the Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology (EBKUST), during its 4th Congregation ceremony for the Conferment of Degrees and Award of Diplomas and Certificates at the Prof E.J.J. Momoh Pavilion University Secretariat Magburaka Campus, with the theme: ‘Leveraging the research, science and innovation to address current and future issues of higher education in Sierra Leone.’
He said without a strong foundation and focus on research, science and innovation, the University cannot deliver on its mandate to support sustainable national development.
“We cannot continue to lag behind, EBKUST has demonstrated to us that they are ready and prepared to complement efforts of the government and ongoing engagement of the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education to transform and modernise Higher Education. Of course, the universities must play a pivotal role to complement government’s efforts,” the deputy minister stated.
He emphasised that the need to ensure that the universities are properly positioned for research, science and innovation; deliberate steps must be taken to align courses with national development priorities, upgrade research infrastructures; enhance professional and technical competencies; promote entrepreneurship and innovation; and create an enabling environment for STI development in higher education.
The Vice-Chancellor and Principal Rev. Prof. Edwin J.J. Momoh, who doubles as Second Vice-Chancellor and Principal described the graduation as a special occasion culminating in years of hard work.
He said: “Today’s high point of our celebration is the graduation of the first cohorts of postgraduates alongside 1,562 undergraduate degrees, diplomas and certificates. This is a milestone achievement in one year,” he said.
He expressed profound gratitude to President Julius Maada Bio, visitor to the University, the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education and the University Court, for honour reposed in him to serve the nation in that capacity.
Rev. Prof. Edwin J.J. Momoh went on to say, together they took over an institution in its neonatal stage, with a limited staff strength, especially at the Secretariat, they painstakingly went through restructuring its whole system.
He said technical and professional staff strength at the Secretariat was just five people, with close supervision and leadership from the inception Vice-Chancellor and Principal Prof. Abdullah Mansaray.
“Together we have brought these to operating near full throttle. Grateful for these successes,” he said.
He also commended partner’s instructions for providing funds and other resources for educational pursuit and related youth programmes.
The Chancellor of the University, David Omatshola Carew said all they need to realign their national responsibility with the current global challenge is through innovation.
The Vice-Chancellor of the University of Liberia, Dr. Julius Nelson expressed appreciation and congratulation to the graduates for not quit neither fall on the way side.
He said the beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from them, not family, not friends, adding that he is confidence that the sponsors and parents support will pay.
He reminded his audience about the need to be innovative and collaborative and also think outside the box for the government to invest more in education for the development of the nation.
Graduates expressed thanks to their parents, guardians and sponsors during their four years of academic struggle.
They further expressed readiness to serve their country and their institutions wholeheartedly.