By Foday Moriba Conteh
During a well-attended ceremony held on Friday 27th January, 2023 at the New Multi-Purpose Hall, Fourah Bay College Campus in Freetown, the Honorable Vice President of Sierra Leone Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh officially launched the University of Sierra Leone Endowment Fund.
Vice Chancellor and Principal, USL, Brig-Gen Prof Foday Sahr, in his welcome statement and purpose of the event said in 2020 President Bio challenged all of them to think outside the box to support Government by raising fund, adding that the current Chancellor and Chairman of the Court in 2022 considered the idea for having an Endowment Fund.
He went on to state that the success and sustainability of the Endowment Fund depends on the alumni, well wishers among others. He called on all who are passionate about the institution to embrace the initiative maintaining that those who actively contribute in cash or in kind will be highly recommended. Having an Endowment Fund, he emphasized, will create an opportunity for them to diversify.
The Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Dr Alpha Tejan Wurie, said Government has done so much but there is so much more that need to be done, of which he described the move as a very laudable one and called for the need to look at how similar programs can be rolled out.
“So much had been done but we have a long way to go. This is a potential vehicle for us to invest in our self. Alhaji Tunde Cole has shown us the way and this is the main direction,” the Minister said.
He recalled some of the strides Government took over the years for the transformation of education in the country and the hard times they went through.
The Chancellor and Chairman of the Court, USL, Dr James Sanpha Koroma disclosed that his commitment to the Endowment Fund involved his personal engagement in the University as an undergraduate student, his tenure as research student over the years among others.
He recalled his days as a University student in the 60s and when he became a Chancellor saying what he saw was quite different from what is happening now underscoring how he wants that to be reversed.
He said during the 60s most of the facilities on campus were not different from the facilities of hotels downtown, stating that after his appointment as Chancellor he discovered that no amount of subvention or student fees will be able to sustain the University.
Dr James Sanpha Koroma pointed out that it is necessary for them to have such a Fund as Government cannot support them fully but rather to find a sustainable way.
“This is a standard for universities all around the world. Let us all work towards formalizing the Fund. I want to commit myself even after my tenure to continue to raise funds for the University,” he said.
He disclosed that an account has been opened for all to give their support adding that the University Endowment Fund is primarily being established from the receipt of charitable donations from private individuals, corporations, foundations, associations, and organizations.
Launching the Endowment Fund, Sierra Leone’s Vice President, Dr. Mohamed Juldeh Jalloh said there is no suitable time for such an event than now when the country is ranking very high around the world in transforming education and also the fact that Sierra Leone is one of five global champions in transforming education.
He said Sierra Leone is in an era of free quality education maintaining how that speaks volume about their determination, conviction as a people to transform the educational sector noting that the education landscape can never be the same again as enrolment is increasing at a very alarming speed.
The Vice President disclosed that Government is spending 22% of the national budget on education adding that there are about 27 thousand students in the university and they are very satisfied as a Government.
He also mentioned an increase in public exams passes saying more girls are now enrolled into the Sciences and investment in technical education has doubled adding that similar investments have been done in other sectors or areas such as health, energy, agriculture among others.
“Financial resources alone are not enough to turn around an institution,” the VP said.
The Vice President went on to say the challenges in the university are not only bordered on finances but also on human resources and how they govern the ecosystem.
He called on the University authorities that in as much as they are looking for additional resources, they should create and invest in the sciences, technology and innovation as it is vital for them to have a trade dependent economy.
The USL Endowment Fund Leadership was presented by the Deputy Vice Chancellor, IPAM, Miriam E. Conteh-Morgan.
Mr Abdoulie Jan Janneh, Executive Director, Mo Ibrahim Foundation is the President of the Fund, Alhaji Ing Dr. Babatunde Cole, Executive Chairman, NP Group Ltd is the first Vice President of the Fund and Mrs. Mariama Francess J. Jajua the Second Vice President of the Fund.
Following the presentation of the USL Endowment Fund Leadership was the announcement of the donation Fund’s Seed Money, which was also followed by donations & pledges that was facilitated by the Pledge Master, Kobi Walker, Chief Executive Officer, NP-Sierra Leone Ltd.