The process to remove and replace the President as Chancellor of the University is in high gear. Few weeks ago, higher education stakeholders converged at the New Brookfields Hotel Conference Hall in Freetown to validate a nationwide consultation report as part of the process to review the 2005 Universities Act, which will result in stripping off the title of chancellor of the universities from the president.
Chaired by the Chief Minister, Prof. David Francis, the meeting organized by the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education unanimously endorsed the report and authorized the Ministry to present resolutions to cabinet for review and approval.
The Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Prof. Aiah Gbakima highlighted that the review of the Universities Act was necessitated by the desire and policy statement of the President to relinquish his role as Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone as dictated by the 2005 Universities Act.
This venture, according to the minister, is aimed at depoliticizing governance of the higher education sector in addition to expanding infrastructure across the country.
Vice Chancellor and Principal of the Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology (EBKUST), Prof. Edwin Momoh, who doubles as chairman of the consultation committee, disclosed that the nationwide consultation process attracted critical discussions on the nomenclature of public education institutions, establishment of new universities, removal of the position of pro-chancellors and reviewing the president’s position as chancellor, among others.
Minister of Health and Sanitation, Prof. Alpha Tejan Wurie, who doubles as a former minister of education, in addition to immensely contributing in the review process of the Act, spoke critically on the need for futuristic nametags for educational institution, while frowning on political nametags.
He further expressed elation that the resolutions dictate that chancellors of the various universities should be appointed based on integrity and competence.
Prof. Wurie said it is a bold step for the government to think of expanding higher education in the country, while noting that such move should go side by side with standardized education review for each of these universities to avoid duplication of efforts.
The Chairman of Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), Prof. Alghali commended the ministry for accepting the recommendations emanating from the nationwide consultations.
He applauded the recommendations for the transformation of MMCET and Eastern Polytechnic into Technical Universities.
The education stakeholders unanimously endorsed, among others, the removal of the role of chancellor from the president, who will now assume the role of a visitor at the universities; the establishment of three new universities and the transformation of two polytechnic institutions into technical universities; the creation of the roles of chancellor for each university and abolition of the role of pro-chancellor, and the de-politicization of public university nomenclatures.