By Ibrahim J. Conteh
Dr. Patrick M. Korwama, a seasoned researcher and renowned educationist on Thursday 1st July 2021 thrilled students, staff and the public at a well-attended Public Lecture delivered at the Great Hall of the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology, Goderich Campus in Freetown.
The theme for the Public Lecture was “The Role of Technical University in National Development.”
In his opening statement, Dr. Korwama highlighted the need for such an engagement with the student body and staff of the college noting that science education is very important in the development of any nation and that a Technical University is critical in improving productivity and enhancing efficiency for better participation in economic development underscoring that many of the developing countries were able to achieve so much in science and technology because of their investments in technical fields of higher institutions of learning.
He further pointed out that education for sustainable development covers different areas from elementary to university pointing out that one of these areas is Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET), the type of education that emphasizes on the acquisition and application of the skills, knowledge and attitudes required for employment in a particular occupation in any field of social and economic activity.
Dr. Patrick M. Korwama also maintained that over the years, Sierra Leoneans got it wrong as a nation for considering TVET as a separate sector rather than an integral part or vital component of the country’s educational system that leads to the acquisition of knowledge and expertise relevant to society and the development of a nation underscoring that this is one of many reasons why even the brighter students from primary schools would go to study Roman Culture at Fourah Bay College (FBC) rather than TVET institutions stressing that understanding the meaning of what Technical Education entails is critical in the development of skills and knowledge in a manner which aligns it to a particular area of labour market and directly supports its practical application.
Dr. Korwama emphasized that Technical Education systems play a crucial role in the social and economic development of a nation, that owing to its dynamic nature, Technical Education is continuously subject to the forces driving change in the schools, industry and society and reiterated the need for Sierra Leone as a nation to invest heavily in Technical Education affirming that the more money we spend on education, the better the outcome in the coming years and lauded the efforts of government in allotting 20% of the national budget to education which he reiterated is a step in the right direction in providing the needed resources in building the human capital.
In his PowerPoint presentation, Dr. Korwama displayed the global ranking of the top ten (10) Universities of Science and Technology in Africa, in which the first and second ranking positions in the continent are in 1414 and 1525 in the global ranking respectively, an indication that the continent has not given much priority to technical education of higher learning articulating that the Universities of Technology are key to economic development, employment and the necessity to raise the productivity of the informal sector.
He disclosed, “In some countries in sub-Sahara African in particular, governments are renewing efforts to promote Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) with the conviction that development of skills enhances productivity and sustains competiveness in the global economy. Furthermore, the characteristic of a Technical University focuses on the creation, enhancement and application of technical knowledge to affect the growth of entrepreneur and enhance productivity in the economy.”
According to Dr. Korwama, successive governments in Sierra Leone have not given much attention to this aspect of education, that consequently, the society lacks skilled technicians and innovators that has given rise to youth unemployment due to the lack of employability skills that are often acquired from Technical Universities and Colleges asserting that most analysts agree that today’s employers’ demand more skills than they are had in the past highlighting several reports indicating factors that have contributed to the rising demand for skills in the labor market to include technological and organizational change, trade, deregulation of key industries and the decline of unions, especially developing countries like Sierra Leone that needs balanced development through all of the educational sectors in order to make significant progress in terms of national development.
Concluding, Dr. Korwama maintained that Technical Education ensures that graduates from the various educational institutions have the necessary knowledge and skills for the many new jobs which are created in a rapidly growing economy highlighting the need for Sierra Leone to focus on Information, Communication Technology (ICT) and Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) as the bedrock of Universities of Technology.
Earlier, the principal of MMCET, Dr. Philip John Kanu welcomed all at the ceremony and introduced Dr. Patrick M. Korwama while the question and answer session climaxed the well-attended event.