Tourism Minister Opens Tourism, Hospitality Review Workshop

239

Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt Minister Pratt has officially opened a Tourism and Hospitality Review workshop at MMCET Campus in Freetown.

At the event she pointed out that President Bio has prioritised Human Capital Development as a key flagship programme and that the nation’s most substantial asset is its human resources which are largely made up of young people who must be properly developed to be an asset for economic growth and development.

She said it is on that premise that the administration of MMCET has embarked on the review of the Tourism and Hospitality curriculum that would be used to provide the required training that would increase the human resource capacity of the Tourism and Hospitality industry in the country.

Principal of the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology (MMCET) polytechnic, Dr. Philip John Kanu as articulated that the tourism industry is so important to the institution that he is happy that their mother (the Minister of Tourism) is back home and that his statement would anchor on the great things she has done for the industry which the college has experienced among the many things she has done within a very short time.

He made the statement at the curriculum review workshop at MMCET polytechnic, Brookfields campus in Freetown.

The principal said the Brookfields campus was neglected over the years but affirmed that the college is grateful for the support received from the Minister and would make the best out of it in addition to utilizing the support of the Minister as the college has  been given the opportunity asserting that Milton Margai College supports the tourism industry to undertake massive construction at  Brookfields under her leadership but cautioned that some of the classes would be relocated reiterating that one cannot run the  institution without a place to do practicals and commended the Minister for actualizing his dream.

According to Dr. Kanu, the Minister of Tourism is the right person in the right place, that tourism has a major role to play in the new direction manifesto of government that the curriculum review process is for the entire country and that after validation of the document it would be integrated into the tourism curriculum nationwide.

He further informed that the workshop is the beginning for nationwide workshops to sound the opinion of other stakeholders in the sector, affirmed that Sierra Leone has beautiful  touristic places, that the funds secured to improve the sector are in the country, that the consultants have been contacted for the recruitment  of service providers for work to soon commence for the rehabilitation of the college including renovation of the classrooms and  support to the curriculum review process in addition to other players to support the process.

Dr. Kanu revealed that the World Bank has provided funds to train 400 hoteliers and other players in the industry intimating that  the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education would also be involved in the process intimating that the college has Diploma, first degree, Masters and PhDs holders in tourism revealing that they have secured a Fulbright Fellow professor in tourism through the US embassy in Freetown stressing that an institution without good staff is not an institution and that without good lecturers an institution cannot attract students.

According to the principal, he would also bring experts in transportation that is related to the sector affirming that experts in tourism are inadequate.

The Vice Principal and Director of Studies, MMCET, Dr. Mohamed Alie Jalloh,  in his overview of the curriculum review process said it is a  deliberate and calculated move to bring quality education to the college which started two years ago when the principal hit the ground running after which the college hired a consultant to do a needs assessment of the college with a strategic plan anchored on transforming teaching and learning, quality assurance and transforming the college to a technical university reiterating that the three pillars have led to remarkable transformation of the college.

Dr. Jalloh went on to state that the curriculum review process is the bye-product of the strategic plan to ascertain the value of the college curriculum to meet the demands of the industry- consumers of the college products who would also make inputs into the process.

He said participants at the workshop include formidable experts who have put the document together but opined that the industry must tell the college the type of products they want disclosing that they would travel nationwide to sound the views of other stakeholders before the document is validated that would give students the confidence to become proud ambassadors of the college and looked forward to their full participation.

The Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt said the day is historic, exciting, emotional and epoch-making in terms of tourism education in the country observing that the college has for decades not had a dynamic and visionary principal who has transformed the institution within a very short time, navigates around all the sectors in the industry and described him as a goal-getter assuring that the curriculum review process would really help the college.

Officially launching the workshop, the Minister of Tourism and Cultural Affairs, Dr. Memunatu Pratt Minister Pratt pointed out that President Bio has prioritized Human Capital Development as a key flagship programme and that the nation’s most substantial asset is its human resources which are largely made up of young people who must be properly developed to be an asset for economic growth and development.

She said it is on that premise that the administration of MMCET has embarked on the review of the Tourism and Hospitality curriculum that would be used to provide the required training that would increase the human resource capacity of the Tourism and Hospitality industry in the country.

She mentioned that recent training needs assessment survey conducted by the Ministry and the National Tourist Board statistics clearly shows that 62% of the courses offered are mostly certificate, 28 % diploma and only 10% are tourism related degrees offered by institution, which in effect caters for lower level manpower in the tourism industry.

Minister Pratt believed that the success and competitiveness of the industry depends on the competence and quality of its human resource capacity, therefore, the workforce requires suitable expertise in order to provide the appropriate services for the industry, hence her Ministry has prioritized the link between training programmes and business development goals that aligns with the aim of providing employees with information, skills development and comprehensive understanding of the overall growth of the sector, while maintaining that the relevance of the sector requires a curriculum fit for international best practice.

Dr. Pratt continued that President Julius Maada Bio has prioritized human capital development-the most valuable asset for the country who are mostly youths, that the revised curriculum would add value to the sector highlighting that education improves income and productivity within the sector.

Dr. Pratt also observed that the Ministry wants to provide employees with information and the skills for international best practice, that the curriculum is obsolete and does not meet current trends, assured that the Ministry would fully integrate the validated curriculum into the national curriculum and work with the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education to integrate the curriculum with other tourism institutions in the country underlining that capacity building is a critical component in the sector to meet current challenges lamenting that mushroom industries do not have the right staff.

“A trained and qualified workforce in the sector is highly required. Furthermore, human resource capacity is necessary in this productive sector. Therefore, we want an harmonized curriculum for the sector,” she maintained.

The representative of the Tertiary Education Commission reiterated that designing and reviewing a curriculum cannot be overemphasized, that curriculum review should be a regular process to ensure quality and relevance in academic work essential for all institutions, that its the embodiment of a program to support the acquisition of knowledge but lamented that there is a mismatch between graduates and the job market. 

Earlier in her welcome address, Mrs. AlimaJuma, Dean of the Brookfields campus welcomed all to the campus, launch of the first phase of the Skills Development Fund Workshop and curriculum review, and commended all for coming to share their expertise and experiences with the college.

The Short Course Coordinator at MMCET, Papa Njai reiterated that tourism matters in Sierra Leone and that Milton Margai College is ready to take the lead.