In October the vice chancellor had the privilege to visit friends and partners of UNIMAK in Italy. Visits were made to the University of Parma, Catholic University of Milan, State University of Milan, University of Verona, Amici della Sierra Leone, Knights of St.John of Malta, friends of Cesena, Saint Lawrence Foundation, the Xaverian Missionaries in Parma and our dear bishop emeritus, George Biguzzi. Thanks to the Xaverian missionaries of Brescia and Bishop George for hosting Fr. Joe Turay.
Public lectures are now part of the academic tradition of UNIMAK. The University has seen the likes of ex-president Kabba, ministers of government, journalists, academic scholars engaging our young students in conversations around the socio-economic and cultural development of our nation. The academic year started with two public lectures organised by the law and development studies departments.
The Law Department invited associate professor Charles Jalloh, from the University of Pittsburg School of Law for a public lecture on ‘ The Law and Politics of Charles Taylors trial’. Prof Charles Jalloh, a Sierra Leonean, is a distinguished scholar in the field of international law and international criminal law. His research and articles on international criminal law with special reference to international war trials in Sierra Leone, Rwanda, Yugoslavia etc have been outstanding. This is the beginning of cooperation and friendship… thanks prof.
Our Minister of Finance, Dr. Kelfala Marah, gave a brilliant presentation on the ‘Agenda for Prosperity and its implications for tertiary level education’. The Agenda for Prosperity’ is the development plan, the third generation of Sierra Leone’s poverty reduction strategy programmes , that should propel us to becoming a middle income country. Dr. Kelfala Marah has worked with the commonwealth and other financial and political institutions. The conversation with the students and staff during the public lecture opened up new vistas for engagement by tertiary universities in the agenda for shared prosperity.
Follow this link for a report on this lecture.
The University of Makeni hosted the following friends, Jonathan Kay and Bob Lyons from Makeni Trust Fund, UK and the Volunteer Mission Movement (VMM). The Kays are household names at UNIMAK where they served as volunteers for two years. Jonathan is now on the board of the VMM and his visit was to have an update about the VMs in the Diocese of Makeni, Sierra Leone. Two VMs are working in the diocese serving as nurse tutors in our catholic hospitals. The plan is to continue the engagement with UNIMAK and the diocese. Bob represented our good ‘Friends of Sierra Leone’ who have supported us in our journey as a university with scholarships, school materials and financing other projects. The Makeni Trust Fund has offered two more scholarships for our staff to pursue a masters in information technology.
Working in a partnership with Academics Without Borders Canada (AWBC) and CAUSE Canada, the University of Makeni (UNIMAK) has successfully completed a pilot project to offer in-service maths and science workshops for primary school teachers in the Koinadugu region of Sierra Leone.
Workshop participants and facilitators Week One
UNIMAK faculty facilitated the workshops, CAUSE staff took care of the logistics, and AWBC volunteers provided content ideas and took the opportunity to assess the local situation. Using concrete materials and Child-Centred Teaching Techniques (CCTT), the workshops were designed to provide model lessons on specific math and science topics from the school syllabus. A total of 56 teachers participated in the workshops and 37 additional teachers provided their input to the needs assessment.
Participants engaged in a science lesson in Week Two
The key issue identified is the number of unqualified and untrained teachers who lack the necessary math and science background to prepare pupils contributing to massive failures on the West African Primary School Exam. Recommendations for moving forward include providing more access to in-service training in the form of a lead teacher program (these lead teachers would return to their schools to conduct workshops for their peers) as well as concrete math and science materials in the form of a toolkit for schools and distance education materials, as the technology becomes available.
To ensure long-term sustainability, it is suggested that UNIMAK offer a formal certification program for in-service teachers and conduct a more formal follow-up to measure impact. A longitudinal research study could track workshop participants to better understand the particular challenges of math and science education and, at the same time, focus on improving the educational success of girls in Sierra Leone.
Everyone involved felt that the project was a success and that AWBC should fully support continued collaboration with UNIMAK and CAUSE Canada.
Read the full Project Report here.
The University Prospectus for the new academic year 2013-2014 has been published on the website. To facilitate internet access, it can be downloaded whole or in parts. See the Downloads page for the links.