Honorary Degree conferred on President of Sierra Leone

His Excellency The President is congratulated on his award

His Excellency, the President of the Republic of Sierra Leone, Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, was invested with the Degree of Doctor of Letters (D.Litt.) (honoris causa) at this First Graduation Ceremony.

In his acceptance speech the President described the important role of higher education in development, emphasising the following vital elements:

• preparing a high quality workforce equipped with the robust skills needed to adapt to changing job requirements, and to ‘hold its own’ in a highly competitive globalised world,

• disseminating research and promoting technology transfer,

• improving teaching and learning at all levels of the education sector,

• providing lifelong learning opportunities,

• championing societal transformation by nurturing good governance and leadership skills.

And noting that the recently concluded Sierra Leone Conference on Transformation and Development greatly emphasized education as an engine of transformation.

Follow this link to read the President’s address in full

Container from UK

Makeni Trust Fund, a UK based NGO, has donated a 20 feet container of assorted educational items to UNIMAK.

Receiving the container on behalf of the Chancellor and College Administration, the Acting Vice Chancellor, Rev.Fr. Dr. Joseph A. Turay thanked the donors and all those who contributed in one way or another  in making this dream a reality.

The Acting Vice Chancellor stated that these educational items, especially the computers, arrived at a time of particular need in the university with a view to promoting the ICT component. Most of these computers will be installed in our new research and internet Lab to help our students access their mails and facilitate their research process, he added.

Fr. Dr. Turay commended the benefactors especially Jonathan and Delia for their relentless effort in promoting the aspirations of UNIMAK in the wider world. Fr Turay appealed for more support in the area of ICT equipment including teaching aids like video cameras/camcorders, computers for editing, and photocopiers.

University Unveils Plans for Faculty of Agriculture

Visiting Professors from the University of Milan with Acting Registrar

The University of Makeni in collaboration with the University of Millan in Italy has just completed a five day training programme with agriculture oriented people at the University of Makeni – Fatima Campus. Speaking at the opening session the Crop Science Officer from the Ministry of Agriculture Forestry and Food Security David Koroma commended the University for complementing government’s effort in developing the human resource section of the ministry. Mr. Koroma pointed out that it is important to train the middle level manpower in the country, adding, they work directly in the fields and if they are developed in their areas of specialization it will improve agriculture.

Agriculture training session at University of Makeni

Acting Registrar of the University of Makeni, Joseph B. Tholley, said that the “Life Long Learning Program” is an agricultural program that is geared towards training young people, including women, in basic agricultural skills that will help them acquire knowledge and skills in the production process in agriculture for a lifelong period. Mr. Tholley revealed that it is a starting point for the Agriculture Faculty in the university and noted that there is need to begin with something that reflects the real life situation of the people. The Registrar explained that they have decided to bring together a mixture of farmers, students, teachers and people who want to study agriculture to higher level and to have a feel of what it takes to be an agriculturist.

He stressed that the training is based on improving individuals thus enhancing their capability to improve their skills in the production of agricultural products. The Registrar highlighted the topics to be dealt with during the course of the training citing, Agronomy, the use of machinery in production process and the agric- economic aspect. It is expected that the faculty of agriculture will be introduced at the university next academic year. This he stated will bring on board people who intend to study agriculture at Certificate, Diploma and Degree levels. “Our approach for our students is to practise what they have learnt, and produce in a unique way what can influence the agricultural sector”, he added.

Support from Japan for Special Education at UNIMAK

The Project Coordinator for the Government of Japan’s foreign aid scheme called ‘Grant Assistance for Grass-Roots Human Security Projects’, or GGP, paid a one day working visit to the University of Makeni on 14 April 2011.

Sr Mary Sweeney with Seiko Tomizawa at the Fatima campus

Project Coordinator, Seiko Tomizawa, said that the aim of this visit was to assess at first hand UNIMAK’s learning facilities, and the plans to provide space to accommodate a school for visually impaired children – covering both nursery and primary ages, and including a dormitory. She further disclosed that her visit was to explore ways that her organisation will partner with UNIMAK in supporting the Special Education programme so as to train teachers to assist physically challenged children in the country.

Ms Tomizawa explained that the government of Japan offers financial assistance to meet the diverse basic human needs of the people in developing countries: “This scheme supports projects implemented by non-profit organizations such as NGOs, educational and medical institutes, who are eligible to receive foreign funds under the relevant law of the Government of Sierra Leone. This is why I’m here to see how best we could work in partnership with UNIMAK to achieve our organisation’s objectives in supporting children with disabilities,” she added.

The Acting Vice Chancellor, Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Turay in his welcome statement expressed thanks and appreciation for the good will gesture that the Japanese Embassy is extending to UNIMAK’s Special Education department, emphasizing that this will help promote and facilitate the practical and outreach programmes through the teaching practice programme. “The school for the visually impaired will serve not only for teaching experience for their students but also help to educate the physically challenged so as to become useful contributors to the country’s development.”

“What makes UNIMAK special is that it deals directly with the local communities through its outreach programmes at grass roots level. We are looking forward to receiving grants that would eventually make a difference in the life of the underprivileged in this friendly country,” Dr. Turay added.

Sister Mary Sweeney, Head of the Special Education Department at the University of Makeni, expressed her hope that the Nursery and Primary school project planned to accommodate ninety visually impaired pupils, and the dormitory planned for 30 boys and girls, funded by Japan’s Grant Assistance for Grass-Roots Human Security Projects, will provide appropriate and effective education to people with disabilities so they have a chance to fully function in society.

A tour of the project site near St. Francis Secondary School, Makeni, and the School for the Blind in nearby Panlap, formed part of the one day working visit. The picture shows Sr Mary Sweeney talking with Seiko Tomizawa at the Fatima Campus.

March 2011 News Update

The University Vice-Chancellor and his administration team have issued an update of developments on the campus, including new building plans, staff development news, and the latest links established with other universities on other continents. Read all about them in the attached report.

Read News Update – March 2011 – here