UNIMAK Hosts National Mental Health Conference

Correspondent Matthew Kanu writes:

A two day conference on Mental Health was held at the University of Makeni in December, organized by the Sierra Leone Mental Health Coalition. Participants in the conference were drawn from the health sector and other civil society groups with focus on health, including the University of Makeni Mental Health Department ,the Social Workers Union and Health and Advocacy Program.

Addressing participants of the conference the Registrar and Director of Academic Affairs Reverend Dr. Fr. Francis Sehdu Sesay said every meaningful Sierra Leonean should help others in maintaining a stable and mental health status in the country. “Our responsibility as a University is to minimize mental illness in Sierra Leone” he claimed.

Many believe that people should try to embrace the seriousness and reality of mental health in Sierra Leone because people should have advice on how to manage themselves. There are mental health risks in crisis situations such as the Ebola outbreak and the mudslide that change the psychological makeup of the people .

Many people in the street of Makeni hold the view that the conference is just the beginning of expressing the seriousness of focusing on Mental Health in Sierra Leone. Expressing his opinion in an interview, a trader in the Makeni City main lorry park, Sorie Conteh, said there are limited Mental Health drugs in most hospitals across Sierra Leone . “Government should know that Mental Health patients have their right to access affordable drugs” he explained . A student from the University of Makeni John Koroma believed that the families have a lot to do in order to minimize mental health in the country . He believed that the family is the first institution to respect the mentally ill people in society.“The families need to know that Mental Health patients should be respected” he exclaimed.

According to retired Dr. Edward Muana there were over 400,000 Mental Health patients after the decade long civil conflict and there are over 600,000 Mental Health Patients after the Ebola outbreak in Sierra Leone. According to the 2015 Housing and Population Census there are 7 million people in Sierra Leone.

Addressing participants at the end of the conference Joshua Duncan of the Mental Health Coalition of Sierra Leone explained that the coalition was impressed with calibre of participants from the health sector and civil society that attended the conference but emphasized the need to engage in networking and partnership in order to ensure that the mental health illness is minimized or eradicated in the country. “The country will not develop if we refuse to focus on mental health” he explained.


Orientation of UNIMAK’s New Students

On 21st October 2017 new students were orientated in the midst of lecturers and management of the university inside the prestigious auditorium situated at the Fatima Campus.

Addressing the new students during the orientation, the Registrar and Director of Academic Affairs Reverend Fr. Dr. Francis Sehdu Sesay encouraged students to be focused in their studies.  He further emphasized that UNIMAK has a zero tolerance to exams malpractice, and student’s absenteeism without a justified reason is not allowed.

Students and Staff at the 2017 Orientation

Director of Administration and Finance Reverend Fr. Benjamin Sesay admonished the students to be responsible students within and outside campus. He also informed them that by gaining admission into the university they have entered into a contract in which their responsibility is to pay their fees in order for the university to provide the required services for them. “You know we are not receiving government subvention because this is a private university. 70% of our income is from fees so we encourage you to pay your fees on time” he noted.

Speaking in an interview first year Mass Communication Ejatu Jalloh says this is her first time of leaving her parents in Freetown but she feels very comfortable living in the university hostel not far away from the campus. “The environment is very friendly. The lecturers are very friendly. All that I need now is to listen to the advice of the Registrar and Director of Academic Affairs to focus on my studies” she said.

UNIMAK Library Organises Awareness Raising for the 2018 General Election

Matthew Kanu reports:

On Wednesday 17th May 2017 the University of Makeni Library held an awareness raising session on the electioneering process in Sierra Leone. This awareness raising session is aimed at schooling students of UNIMAK on the electoral conduct of the Sierra Leone general elections on 8 March 2018. This is the pre-election process that is directed towards building the confidence of Sierra Leoneans to participate in the 2018 elections. Over 200 students attended the session with support from the Embassy of United States of America in Sierra Leone.

Since its inception in 2005, UNIMAK has been very proactive in building a stronger governance system in Sierra Leone. During the 2007 and 2012 general elections UNIMAK trained paramount chiefs on their responsibilities in the electoral process, trained youths on non violence campaigns and also trained local community radio reporters across Sierra Leone on election reporting .

Students and facilitators posing after the session

First year Mass Communication student Bintu Sudan Sesay admitted that this is her first time of listening to a detailed explanation of the electoral laws of Sierra Leone and consequences of violating them. “Before this time I knew nothing about the Sierra Leone electoral laws . Now I can stand anywhere and explain them to colleague students and people outside the university” she explained .

First year accounting student Abibatu Tarawalie said explaining the NEC calendar and its challenges and successes to them showed that the 2018 elections will be run in a transparent and accountable manner. “Coming down to our level as students to explain the electoral laws is the beginning of a transparent electoral process in Sierra Leone because I know most colleague students are within the voting age and can contribute a lot in ensuring a clean electoral process nationwide” she noted .

Addressing students in the auditorium during the session UNIMAK Director of Academic Affairs Rev. Fr. Dr. Francis Sehdu Sesay said this session is part of the university core values. These values include teaching. research and community engagement . He said UNIMAK is organizing these sessions because students have the right to vote and be voted for in Sierra Leone.

Facilitators of the session included the Bombali District NEC Voter Education and Training Officer Manty Daboh Turay, Makeni Panlap Police Division Local Unit Commander Gibril M Turay and UNIMAK Dean of Students Foday Augustine Bangura.

Bombali District NEC Voter Education and Training Officer, Manty Dabo Turay

The Bombali District NEC Voter Education and Training Officer Manty Daboh Turay informed the students that NEC is aware of the students’ role towards the conduct of a successful election in 2018. She also noted that violation of electoral laws is punishable by law and liable to imprisonment . “These violations include spreading false rumors, ballot stuffing, attempting to disrupt the peaceful conduct of the electoral process, provocation, intimidation, destroying your voter ID card and not displaying political tolerance”.  Madam Turay advised students to be role models to others because their contribution to the electoral process is key to sustainable development in Sierra Leone. She also noted that public engagement is very important for a successful conduct of the elections. “Please disseminate peaceful messages, undertake mass campaign rallies to ensure peaceful elections within and outside your campuses”.

Community policing is key in all elections in Sierra Leone. Even though the current police population is small to police a population of over seven million people, the country’s police hierarchy said they are ready to police the conduct of the 2018 elections. About 1000 newly recruited police officers will be ready .

Makeni Panlap Police Division Local Unit Commander Gibril M Turay

Explaining the police role and public expectations the Makeni Panlap Police Division Local Unit Commander ASP Gibril M Turay said section 2 of the police act of 1964 guaranteed the duty of the police to provide security for citizens of which NEC is no exception . “UNIMAK students should make the difference in the dispensation of the election process within the framework of the laws “he explained .

ASP Turay noted that for peace and tranquility to prevail students and members of the public as a whole should not insult or do any action that will disturb the conduct of the elections in 2018. “Breaking these laws makes one liable to imprisonment. If you misbehave during the election the police will arrest and charge you,” he explained.

UNIMAK Dean of Students Foday Augustine Bangura.

The UNIMAK Dean of students Foday Augustine Bangura encouraged students to be responsible in disseminating information. “Don’t hold on to messages. Ensure messages are disseminated and not distorted, and avoid the issues of fake news on social media” he noted .

Mr. Bangura further explained that the students are the potential leaders of this country and that they should not be part of anything that is a threat to the elections process. He advised them to ”vote wisely, and don’t say politics is not my business” .

Chairman of NATCOM Delivers Public Lecture and Makes Awards

from Correspondent Matthew Kanu:

6th May 2017


The Chairman of the National Telecommunication Commission (NATCOM), Momoh Konteh, delivered a public lecturer on the topic “THE FUTURE OF TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND MEDIA ETHICS IN SIERRA LEONE‘’. The public lecture attracted students, lecturers and people from different sectors of society . His lecture was the 56th Independent Anniversary lecture. It is now a UNIMAK culture to host personalities from the private and public sector in Sierra Leone and abroad to celebrate Sierra Leone Independence Anniversaries . This year’s lecturer, Momoh Konteh, is one of the distinguished personalities that have contributed greatly in the development of Sierra Leone information technology and education.

Follow this link for notes on the lecture.


Momoh Konteh met a group of Koinadugu students from various disciplines at UNIMAK. Addressing the Koinadugu students  he said contributing to the education of the young people is vital to the development of the country. “There is every need to extend a helping hand to needy students of Koinadugu District because this will develop the human resource of Sierra Leone” he noted. Mr. Konteh therefore donated the sum of one hundred million Leones towards the tuition fees of all students of Koinadugu District studying various courses at UNIMAK (currently 86 students).

Secretary General for UNIMAK Koinadugu Student Union Ballah Musa Sesay appreciated the donation and promised to study hard and get the best grade that will meet the criteria for a competitive job market . “Our parents are tax payers yet the Government of Sierra Leone said that we don’t deserve to get government grant aid. Thanks to Momoh Konteh for helping us” he explained.

Students from the University of Makeni are not getting government grant in aid because it is a private university. Mr. Sesay said they are finding it very difficult to raise their tuition annually as a result of financial difficulties from their parents. “If we utilized this money well by studying hard and graduated with good grade it will positively impact our lives forever” he emphasized .

He called on other people from Koinadudgu District to do the same and promote higher education in Koinadugu District .

Sustainable Development student Ahmed S. Faroh emphasized that the donation is so timely and a step in the right direction that will elevate students from poverty . “It means a lot to all of us pursuing higher education at UNIMAK” he narrated .

Year 3 Development Studies students Antonette A Conteh is happy that their brother Momoh Konteh has come to their aid.  She further explained that they can’t go to universities in Freetown because of the distance and financial challenges in the city. “UNIMAK is closer to Kabala. Our families can easily reach us and the cost of living is relatively cheap. We can’t afford to go Freetown and other parts of the country . This donation will help many of us to  happily continue our studies.”

Appreciating the donation UNIMAK Development Studies Head of Department Unisa Patrick Kamara described Mr. Konteh as a true patriot with a clean heart for his country. The NATCOM Chairman Momoh Konteh is the first Sierra Leonean to make such a great donation to vulnerable students from Koinadugu District.

Vice Chancellor Professor Joseph Turay said investing in education is the only way that will positively enhance economic growth. “I hope many more will follow the footsteps of Momoh Konteh and help support the students” he reiterated.



The chairman of NATCOM then donated a 24 seater bus to The University of Makeni, the second to do so after the National Revenue Authority donated a similar bus in April of this year. “This is meant specifically to solve the problem of transportation” he noted.

Since the University of Makeni was established in 2005 the student population has increased dramatically said the Director of Academic Affairs, Dr. Francis Sehdu Sesay. Students are coming from all parts of the country. ”Our faculty population has increased . New departments have been introduced. These include the Political Science Department and the Department of Clinical Counselling . The present students population is 1,700” he explained.

Responding to the donation the Vice Chancellor Professor Joseph Turay said The University of Makeni has an open door policy to public private partnership. “This is what will make the country recover from it economic difficulties. This is what will promote higher education in Sierra Leone” he said . Professor Turay also maintained that what Momoh Konteh has exhibited is an example of a typical Sierra Leonean with determination to improve the education sector

Many believe that higher institutions like the University of Makeni deserve to be supported through donations from people like Momoh Konteh . More people within and outside Sierra Loene should in one way or another promote higher education in Sierra Leone.


Fair Exam Processes Protect Students’ Rights

Students of The University of Makeni recently took their first semester exams.  Since its inception in 2009 the University of Makeni has ensured a clean and transparent exams process for all faculties and departments.

The Registrar of the University Reverend Fr. Dr. Francis Sehdu Sesay says no one has the mandate to defraud any exams. The Registrar ensures that the examination process is fair and the rights of the students are highly respected. He warned students to avoid any form of exams malpractice.

Director of Human Resource Veronica Kamara said for the past years the University of Makeni has had a zero tolerance to exams malpractice. This is why many parents are sending their children to study at the University. “Here we maintain standards. We have won the public trust“ she maintained.

Many students believe that the country will only develop if its universities maintain academic standards, so that the universities can compete effectively with other universities in Africa and other continents in the world .