Some social commentators believe that the New Direction government has made spectacular efforts in the promotion and implementation of the Free and Quality Education for Primary and Secondary levels in the country, although one cannot say it is devoid of problems, as some pupils and parents have spoken on the challenges associated with the programme.
Nonetheless, I believe that President Bio and his New Direction Government deserves compliment, considering the difficulties and technicalities involved in implementing free education at primary and secondary levels in the country.
But now that the New Direction Government has succeeded in commencing the implementation of such a challenging venture, some schools of thought believe that state universities also need urgent attention and should not be nipped under the carpet of euphoria of what has been achieved.
Some believe that the semi-autonomous state universities, specifically Njala University and the University of Sierra Leone still face numerous challenges in matching international standards. It is a serious concern that should not be treated with light-heartedness, especially when the President himself spoke about the idea of building state institutions in his 2018 political manifesto, postulated by the Sierra Eye Magazine.
It is very important that we all should take a retrospective look at the President`s Political Campaign Manifesto, and start reminding him of his promises before he was elected President of the Republic of Sierra Leone. Though he has not completed one year in office, we should be striking the proverbial iron when it is hot.
Some political analysts believe that Sierra Leonean folks are expected to be well informed and serve as a check and balance, irrespective of diverse political attachments. Folks have blown a lot of trumpets on the notion of situating the country first above every selfish endeavor, but on the other side of the coin, not all have really decided to prioritize the country in their numerous scales of preference.
Now let’s come back to the subject of our discourse. Though Marshall McLuhan, a prolific Canadian Professor, Philosopher, and perhaps, media pundit, purported that the world is becoming a global village, some media scholars believe that the world is not trying to become but has already become a global village due to the emergence of new media i.e. internet, digital and social media platforms around the globe. Such a paradigm shift in the trend of media globalization justifies the urgent need of online registration at our state universities in the country.
Students register at these universities without an online facility and as a result majority are prone to what one may describe as “siege experience” of standing in queues to complete their different registration exercises. The most unfortunate side of the story is that some of these students get to be penalized by the university authorities for late registration. I am of the conviction that students are clients, and must be treated with respect.
As the President strides towards developing state institutions in the country, many believe that if he works in conjunction with university authorities to establish online registration facilities at state universities, he will not only score another political goal, but will fulfill part of his promises in building state institutions across the country.
Students in Sierra Leonean look forward to seeing digital connectivity and online registration facilities at different state institutions in the country. The president does not even need to look far for good example. Let him just look at his neighbor and friend, President George Weah who has introduced a digital online connectivity system in the University of Liberia.
In addition to the barrage of issues regarding the current state of our state universities in the country, let me also throw some light on the current financial challenges with regards to payment of salaries to Lecturers of the Njala University. Though I am aware that the aforementioned predicament emanated from the previous Ernest Bai Koroma regime, there should be a swift response from the New Direction Government in ensuring that the lecturers are paid both in and on time for effective delivery of quality education in the country.
Universities should be made to also represent the New Direction. That is where I believe the greatest difference will be made for the educational revolution that has now gripped this nation. We can do it.