By Bampia James Bundu
On Thursday 11th June 2020, the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education launched the National Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Policy and the Sierra Leone Skills Development Project at the Ministry of Information and Communications Conference Room in Freetown.
Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa launched the Skills Development Project while the Policy was launched by the Minister of Technical and Higher Education.
In his opening remarks, the Minister of Information and Communications, Mohamed Rahman Swaray, maintained that multiple studies have shown that TVET is concerned with the acquisition of knowledge and skills to improve oneself, communities, country and the world at large. He maintained that the launching of the project is in fulfilment of His Excellency Julius Maada Bio’s avowed interest in Human Capital Development as enshrined in the new Direction Manifesto.
According to the Minister, the launching of the project is typical of the ‘Talk and Do’ Government, led by H.E Rtd Brigadier Julius Maada Bio, whilst reiterating that the TVET project will not only help develop the middle man power of Sierra Leone, but would also address the unemployment problem in the country.
Mohamed Raman Swarray further commended the Minister of Technical and Higher Education and his team for a job well done. In a very special way, the Minister in addition expressed his thanks and appreciation to the World Bank for their support toward the project.
The World Bank Operations Officer, Social Protection and Labour, Abu Kargbo assured the Government of his institution’s commitment towards supporting the TVET project in order to ensure that the Government empowers the middle man power in the country.
He disclosed that the World Bank has provided $20 Million towards the project and assured that the Bank is ready to give additional support in order to achieve the aims and objectives of TVET.
The Director of NCTVA, Engineer Mohamed Jalloh, stated that “the key to success is education but the master key to success is TEVET.” He explained that vocational skills training provide individuals with the necessary knowledge and skills to be meaningfully engaged or self-employed.
He commended the President for delivering on this key manifesto promise and further assured him of their fullest support to ensure that the implementation of the project is done successfully.
Launching the TVET Policy, the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Professor Aiah A. Gbakima, expressed his thanks and appreciation to his team, the Minister of Finance, and World Bank for their relentless efforts in ensuring that the project came to reality.
He felt extremely happy to officially launch the TVET Policy alongside the Skills Development Program, and stressed; “The skills development project cannot function well without a well-defined TVET Policy.” These two documents, according to Professor Gbakima, would help change the lives of the average Sierra Leonean and also keep Polytechnics alive in the country. “We need to put our hands together and train our children so that they can be employed or be self-employed,” he said, adding that it’s extremely important that we train our youth for them to be engaged in something productive.
The Minister of Finance, Jacob Jusu Saffa, said that the President had wanted to launch these projects in grand style but due to the fight against COVID-19 and the strict compliance to the precautionary measures, he was unable to do so.
The issue of youth unemployment is not new to politicians. These unemployed youths are often mobilized by politicians during campaigns. In addition, Mr. Saffa indicated that HE Julius Maada Bio during his campaign for the presidency, expressed commitment to address the problem of youth unemployment in the country, and hence it was captured in his New Direction Manifesto. “You cannot address the issue of youth unemployment without developing their skills,” he said, adding that they will not be able to earn sustained income if their skills are not properly developed. “When they are trained, they can go for high income jobs or better still, be self-employed.
This is the bread and butter issue the President has been talking about,” JJ Saffa maintained. He urged the Ministry of Higher Education to be effective and ensure that they work in high speed to actualize the project as there is more funding on the pipeline.
He revealed that in order to make the project successful, the Government has already constructed and renovated about ten Government Technical Institutes in ten districts, while the construction of six Technical Institutes in the remaining districts will soon be done.