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STATE OPENING: Sierra Leone’s President Julius Maada Bio Makes Compelling Case for Prioritising Access to Technical and Vocational Education

Parliament, Tower Hill, Freetown Tuesday 10 May 2022 – His Excellency President Dr Julius Maada Bio has made a compelling case for prioritising access to Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) when he addressed the State Opening of Parliament on his government’s accomplishments since the 2018 elections.

“My Government has also expanded access to technical and vocational education and training by establishing and operationalising ten Government Technical Institutes in nine districts. Through the Skills Development Fund, we are working with the World Bank to train over 6,000 young persons for demand-led skills in various productive sectors. Through Direct Aid by the State of Kuwait, we have secured 24 million USD for the construction of six additional TVET Institutes in Makeni, Lungi, Gbinti, Mongo, Koindu and Mattru Jong. Our plan to establish ‘Centres of Excellence’ in automobile engineering and maintenance of Japanese-made vehicles has been boosted by a grant of 3.8 million USD from the Government of Japan (through UNIDO). This project will be implemented in the existing facilities of the Kissy Dockyard Campus of Freetown Polytechnic, and three other Government Technical Institutes across the country. Mining companies and agro-based industries across Sierra Leone are upskilling thousands of their workers with industry-specific skills.

“The Milton Margai Technical University, the Eastern Technical University, and the new Kono University of Science and Technology will also offer a rich curriculum of industry-focused skills from hospitality, fishing, mining, artisanal works, to entrepreneurship. The Local Contents Agency has also commenced developing a Critical Skills Database of Sierra Leoneans home and abroad, to increase critical job opportunities. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is operating a fully equipped centre of excellence to train Refrigeration and Air Conditioning technicians at the Government Technical Institute, Kissy Dockyard. EPA has trained forty (40) refrigeration and Air Conditioning technicians in the North and North-West regions of the country.

“With funding from the African Development Bank, the National Youth Commission (NAYCOM) has implemented the Youth Entrepreneurship and Employment Project for training and certifying young persons in sustainable construction, hotel management and tourism, and sustainable agriculture including aquaculture and fisheries management. The commission has also invested in alternative livelihood opportunities including training in digital skills for young women, enhancing skills in the media industry including photography, and training stone-crusher plant and other construction-related jobs. NAYCOM has also trained TVET instructors and equipped TVET institutions across the country.

“My Government has completed a National Qualifications Framework that will ensure parity of esteem in the competencies acquired by graduates of TVET and Higher Education institutions.  The framework will guarantee quality assurance in learning outcomes, equity, and inclusiveness.

“The belief of my Government that technical and higher education institutions can only get better and serve the development needs of this nation, has led us to deliver governance and financial reforms, improved salary and other conditions of service, support for professional faculty and staff development at other African Universities, and expanded recruitment opportunities.

“Let me express my profound thanks to you, Mr. Speaker and Honourable Members of Parliament for passing legislation that supported these reforms, including the Universities Act 2021, and the Sierra Leone Students’ Loan Scheme Act 2021 that have opened up more access to technical and higher education. As an important step in granting our tertiary institutions more autonomy, I ceased being the Chancellor of all Public Universities in Sierra Leone. It is my belief that public universities need to be given a free hand in running the institutions that provide us with much-needed skills, research and knowledge for the development of our dear nation. We have upgraded two Polytechnics to the Milton Margai Technical University and Eastern Technical University, and also turned sod for the long-awaited construction of Kono University of Science and Technology.

“While education is generally deemed to be a mid-to-long-term investment in development, we are already seeing the dividends of our work in tertiary and higher education. This year alone, we produced 54 Doctors, 34 Pharmacists, 32 Pharmacy Technicians, 366 Diplomas in Nursing and 207 BSc (Hons) Nursing Nurses from just the College of Medicine and Applied Health Sciences. This is in addition to record numbers of nurses, midwives, and community health workers who have graduated from various other accredited institutions around the country.

“Our investment in postgraduate medical education has also seen early results. Only two weeks ago, our first two surgeon specialists from the University of Sierra Leone Teaching Hospitals Complex passed their membership examinations and became members of the West African College of Surgeons. Our government inaugurated that complex less than two years ago. Three more young doctors are already undergoing postgraduate psychiatry residency training. It fills me with great pride that we are training our own surgeons and specialists; and that for the first time in our nation’s history, we are training our own psychiatrists!

“While we rightly celebrate this, we do not rest on our laurels. Our government is only inspired by these successes to do even more. In the coming year, my Government will lay measures and legislation to consolidate and expand these and other gains in the sector,” he assured.

For More Enquiries: State House Media and Communications Unit

 

 

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