The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces Technical College is on the move, up and running since the start of this academic year. The college is a flagship project of President Rtd. Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, and is placed under the leadership of Colonel Bockarie .
The College campus is situated at Wilberforce Barracks, in close proximity to the infantry battalion and the 34 Hospital.
Specialising in skills development, the curriculum is designed to cater for a wide variety of technical and vocational occupations and trade, including building technology, electrical and electronics, automobile engineering, computer science, business administration, purchasing and supply management, refrigeration and cooling system, catering, tailoring, motor mechanics, food and beverage manufacturing and agriculture.
The first cohort of students, about one hundred currently enrolled at the college are living in campus accommodation to ensure punctuality and maximum concentration on studying. But more funding support is needed.
The fees and charges are affordable and well within the means of middle level income earners, but government should provide more support in that regard by way of scholarships and grant in aid to attract more students, especially the youth who cannot afford to pay those fees.
Focusing on the development of practical skills and technical knowhow is the methodology employed by the teaching staff; students are sent on internship in various institutions to gain work experience in various disciplines, and to prepare graduates for immediate employment in areas where there is acute shortage of qualified human resource capacity to drive national economic growth and reduce unemployment among young people.
The college, however, has not been spared the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. Countries such as Sierra Leone are the most affected because of inadequate medical facilities. After going on a recess for over a month now, the college has resumed classes last week, and students may take their final NCTVA examinations by the end of this year or in January next year.
In as much as students are charged affordable fees, there is need now for the government and the country’s international development partners to render logistical, material and financial assistance with a view to transforming the college into an advanced technical training ground for the development of middle level human resource required by the job market.
Economic analysts are suggesting that the college might very well be the key to solving the country’s youth unemployment and the dearth in qualified technical human resource capacity in the country.
With a technical certificate from a recognized institution such as the Armed Forces Technical College, graduates would be put in a good stead to set up and run their own private business, enter into private partnerships and to bid for public contract tenders for the procurement of goods and services throughout Sierra Leone.