During a momentous ceremony that took place at Bonthe district, on the 15th April, 2023, the Njala University Bonthe Campus was inaugurated by the Chancellor of Njala University, Professor Sahr Moses Gevao.
The ceremony, which took place at the Grounds of the former Bonthe Technical Training College, Monument Lane, Sherbro Island, Bonthe, was graced by administrative and academic staff of Njala University, the Deputy Minister of Technical and Higher Education, the Deputy Speaker of Parliament, the former Mayor of Bonthe Municipality, Bonthe District Officer, traditional leaders, students and residents of Bonthe.
In his welcome address, the Chancellor noted that Njala University is a vibrant, progressive institution, constantly exploring opportunities for growth and sustainability.
Professor Gevao further explained that the establishment of a third campus in Bonthe is part of the University’s restructuring strategy designed to unlock economic potentials, generate untapped industries and put Njala University on the international stage as a recognised education and research provider, specifically in the global maritime world and the sustainable tourism industry.
He added that the University is committed to the achievement of its goals and rely on support from stakeholders in realising what he referred to as “an ambitious project.”
Professor Bashiru Mohamed Koroma, Vice-Chancellor and Principal stated in his inaugural speech that the University’s plans to establish two Schools and Institutes which include the Schools of Maritime Studies, Sustainable Tourism and Hospitality Management, Institute of Technical Entrepreneurship and Vocational Studies, and the Institute of Teacher Education.
He continued that the three Departments under the School of Maritime Studies will include the Marine Engineering and Navigation, Maritime Management and Logistics, and the Department of Marine Sciences and Coastal Agriculture. He also added that the School of Sustainable Tourism and Hospitality Management will host the Departments of Tourism and Travel Management, Hospitality Management and Catering Science, and the Department of Cultural Heritage Studies.
“Recognised as a pioneer of initiatives that support sustainable economic growth, the University is now embarking on an exciting Campus establishment in the Sherbro Island that stands to generate enormous benefits at local and national levels,” Professor Koroma informed the audience.
According to the VC&P, the School of Maritime Studies will address the significant human capacity gaps in Sierra Leone’s blue economy industries.
“This economic concept,” he went on, “promotes the sustainable utilisation of ocean resources for economic growth, food security, employment creation, energy generation, water transportation and protection of the marine environment for future generations.”
He called on the Government, partners, and donors to support the new campus in carrying out its mission.
Speaking in place of the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, the Deputy Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Sarjoh Aziz-Kamara said that he felt frustrated of the apparent neglect and the historical injustice to Bonthe Island over the years, noting that this is addressed today because of President Bio’s desire for education.
The Deputy Minister noted that the transformation is because of the Government’s huge investment in education and expressed the view that Bonthe is lucky to take only thirty-four (34) years to be a constituent Campus of Njala University. He added that His Excellency’s emphasis on human capital development and the investment of 22% in education has seen more people going to school, higher pass rates in public examinations and an increase in the number of students admitted in public Universities.
The Minister assured that the transformation and expansion at Njala University is significant because of the population growth rate in the country especially the youth. He noted that Njala’s expansion to Bonthe Campus will mean that Njala will be serving about 24% of the population in the Southern province, noting that the expansion is deliberate and purposeful by the Government of President Bio.
Minister Sarjor Aziz-Kamara furthered that the expansion is in line with MTHE’s emphasis on technical and vocational education across the sixteen districts to empower the middle man power for self-employment and global competitiveness.
He thanked the Administration for considering significant programmes and courses for the new Campus.
Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Honourable Philip Segepoh Thomas affirmed his commitment and support to the new Campus and called on natives, friends, donors and the Government to support the establishment.
Former Mayor, Layemin Joe Sandi, of Bonthe Municipality committed his fullest support to the Campus and noted that they have longed for such a moment long ago.
Climaxing the ceremony was the cutting of the tape, symbolising the official opening of the Njala University Bonthe Campus.