In order to ensure that there is quality in higher education in Sierra Leone, the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Prof. Aiah Gbakima has launched the Strategic Partnerships for Higher Education, Innovation and Reforms (SPHEIR).
The £4 million project titled: “Assuring Quality in Higher Education in Sierra Leone” which is funded by the British Government seeks to facilitate the introduction of a National Qualifications Framework that strengthens quality assurance, maintains and measures standards across all universities.
Launching the project, the Minister said it is align with the ministry’s (Higher Education) strategic priorities as graduates need to be equipped with the technical and soft skills employers need.
“Our curricula and teaching methods are in urgent need of revision. Higher education and the private sector must work together to ensure greater relevance. The establishment of the National Qualifications Framework and Quality Assurance mechanism will embed changes across the higher education system,” stated Prof. Gbakima.
He added that in order to transform the system of education in the country to produce quality graduates, a radical approach is needed.
According to the Country Director of British Council Sierra Leone, Tony Reilly, graduate employability is a challenge everywhere as a result the project is set out to prepare Sierra Leone’s graduates for the 21st century as a way of equipping them with the skills, knowledge and attributes needed to join the workforce.
“In the past, Sierra Leone’s higher educational system has been challenged due to funding, limited staff training opportunities, weak research infrastructure and the absence of an effective quality management system,” explained Reilly.
He added that this has prevented universities aligning course content with the needs of the job market and the aspirations of the growing number of students.
He reaffirmed that their (British Council Sierra Leone) role is to lead the consortium that would be managing the initiative.
Prof. Abdullah Mansaray, Vice Chancellor Njala University expressed great concern about the quality of graduates being produced and the qualities that employers need.
He said that he is hopeful that at the end of the program, the quality of graduates will improve in order to match the job market.