Sierra Leone News: Njala Principal Outlines Accomplishments
By Aruna Kamara in Bo
The Vice Chancellor and Principal of Njala University, Professor Abdulai Mansaray has outlined his achievements since he took over the mantle of leadership one year ago.
Professor Mansaray told a news conference in Senate Room, University Secretariat, Njala Bo Campus on Friday that “we came into office at a time when this university was faced with some of its greatest challenges including system breakdown, deep financial liabilities owe to current staff, benefits owe to retires and survivors of deceased staff, NASSIT contributions, obligations to NRA and a long list of suppliers.”
“Our liabilities summed up to over Le93 billion (ninety three billion Leones), which is more than the liabilities of all other public universities and colleges put together,” he said.
According to him, “Two weeks upon assuming office, precisely on June 25, 2018, an 18 Terms of Reference (TOR) were given to all public universities and colleges by the Minister of Technical and Higher Education. These TOR were in addition to the statutory functions defined in the University Act of 2005. I am happy to inform you that my administration has achieved all the 18 items on the TOR and more.’’
Professor Mansaray said, “We have set in motion a process of ensuring that the University curricula are aligned with the current emerging demands of Sierra Leone. Our academic policy review and curriculum committee has been reconstituted with an updated mandate and membership to routinely address questions of quality, relevance, access and innovative curricula.”
“The focal persons from the Strategic Partnership for Higher Education Innovation and Reform (SPHEIR) project and the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology Jamee World Education Lab (MITJWEL) affiliation have been co-opted into our curriculum review committee,” he said.
He said that the School of Agriculture shall soon announce the launching of the Songhai Centre Model at Njala to serve as a centre of excellence in agribusiness education in West Africa which will become the hub for youth agriprineurship in the sub region.
Professor Mansaray said: “Our school of education has established a Centre for Pedagogical Excellence for retraining of teachers and instructors to enable them drive the paradigm shift from knowledge –based, a teacher-centre educational system to skills and competence-based education across Sierra Leone. We are now searching for funding opportunities to fully operationalize this centre.”
The University Court through Senate, Professor Mansaray said, has approved the formalization of Bonthe Technical Training College to Bonthe Campus, focussing on research and training in technical entrepreneurship, maritime studies and hospitality management, adding that “we have adhered strictly to all executive orders of President Bio, especially executive order two relating to new appointments.
“All staff due for retirement has been relieved and that we are gradually working on replacing them with qualified young men and women. Age Audit was conducted to ensure effective implementation of executive order two,” he said.
He maintained that they have instituted stringent fiscal disciplines at all levels and have been able to bring their liabilities down from Le93 billion to Le47 billion.
The vice chancellor said they have been able to stabilize the cooperation of colleagues of academic staff by dedicating all subventions to the payment of salaries and allowances, while other internally generated revenue is used to service operational costs and backlog payments.
“We now feel comfortable to move another step further to automate our financial management system,” he said.
Professor Mansaray pointed out that “in preparing for enterprise wide automation, the University website has been overhauled substantially to serve as an integral part of the University’s wider systems and process automation effort, giving it the capacity to support online applications, university webmail and online learning management.”
He added that this has given the university a big boost in global web presence ranking 2,939 out of 30,000 universities worldwide.
He said that they experimented the online applications last year and it has been fully commissioned. “We will continue to innovate our teaching and learning space to catch up with the challenges of the 4th Industrial Revolution,” he said.
Various heads of the department , he said, are now working closely with the examination office to curb examination malpractice and that innovations such as examination committee, conference marking, use of CCTV cameras have been most useful in this venture.
He said that substantial effort is being made to normalise the academic year in October this year.
Professor Mansaray said, “Sanitary conditions in student’s hostels have been generally improved, but sustainable measures require more financial input. Existing facilities are being gradually improved as funds become available but these are yet at a minimal scale.”