Information Directorates, Youyi Building Sierra Leone, 24- 25 May, 2018. As President Bio is pious on promoting free and quality education nationwide in the country, the Minister of Information and Communications and staff has embarked on a facility assessment of internet connectivity sites at educational institutions to enhance E-learning.
At a stopover at the NJALA University- Mokondeh campus, the minister was briefed on the significance of Information and Communication Technology by the ICT Director of the University, Thomas Songu. According to Director Songu, ICT is essential in developing the educational sector; hence universities should drive the process of generating knowledge for national development, but without investment in the ICT infrastructure and the capacities of these institutions, the aspiration of the country as a knowledge base economy will be stalled. He thanks government providing internet on campus for students and staff of the university though he said it was on a minimal scale. Songo therefore appealed for a rollout of the connectivity on the entire compound and its environs.
Minister Swaray re-echoed government commitment to not only free but standard education and assured staff and students of the university that his ministry will work in concert with the Sierra Leone Cable Network to spread connectivity on all campuses to enhance research and e-education. ‘’With an intensified ICT our students will access international lectures to brace up with best practices’’.
Engaging students at the Bo- Toyama campus, he said he knew that there are many challenges, but the government under His excellency Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio is determined to tackle the issues and make a change which will enhance these facilities and ensure that education is supported to meet with the international standards; allowing for students to compete with foreign students for jobs and scholarships internationally. The Information Minister appraised students on government’s efforts to overhaul the ICT sector, which he said will improve education via e-learning and strengthen research in different fields of study. Students desperately raise concerns on the high increase in university fees.
At the Eastern polytechnic, the Minister reaffirmed government commitment spreading internet connectivity. “We recognized the role of ICT to transforming this country, and the president reaffirmed this commitment in the fifth opening session of parliament, therefore we want to see learning institutions benefit and utilize the internet connectivity to enhance education”.
The Managing Director of the Sierra Leone Cabling network (SALCAB), Mohamed Sheriff said “the world is a global village, if you compete, you just don’t compete in the size of your country, but in knowledge. He said the connectivity of the educational institutions was just a pilot project sponsored by the World Bank; he disclosed that there is a scheme in phase two to ensure that the connectivity is generalized throughout the campuses.
The minister and entourage were taken on a facility assessment tour of the internet connectivity equipment sites and other learning facilities including libraries and computer labs of the various educational institutions.
Meanwhile, the ministries delegation visited the right to Access Information, the Ministry of Information and Communications’ Resource centers, the Sierra Leone Broadcasting Corporation in Bo and Kenema, the office of the Sierra Leone Postal service and the SIERRATEL regional offices respectively, to assess these facilities- engaging staff on how to improve their weaknesses and maximize every opportunity that could be tapped from the ICT sector in enhancing their viability.