A delegation from the Ahmadou Dieng University in Guinea has concluded a three -day working visit to the University of Sierra Leone. The purpose of the visit was to access and have first-hand information on the academic activities and the facilities of USL.  The visit also aimed at strengthening the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that had been signed and to formalize the relationship between the two Universities. At a meeting held in the office of the Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sierra Leone, Dr. Abdoula Karim Diallo who is the Advisor to the Minister of Higher Education in the Republic of Guinea, said that Sierra Leone and Guinea had a common focus in developing education but language barrier had been a constraint in effectively attaining that goal. Dr.Diallo informed those present at the meeting that the government of the Republic of Guinea had made it mandatory for the teaching of English in all schools and other academic institutions across Guinea. He said that such action by the government had necessitated collaboration with many universities in the sub region.

Immediate Right to Left is Dr. Abdoula Karim Diallo and Immediate Left to Right is Professor FodaySahr

Professor Foday Sahr, the Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sierra Leone in his statement, expressed his institution’s willingness to collaborate with the Ahmadou Dieng University. He noted that Francophone citizens seemed to be more interested in learning English whilst most of their Anglophone counterparts including Sierra Leoneans hardly showed interest in learning the use of French to communicate in spite of efforts made by government over the years to include the teaching of French in the school curriculum. Professor Sahr expressed hope that through the exchange programmes between the two Universities the problem of language as a barrier in communication would be addressed.

Mrs. Bernadette Cole, the Director of the Alumni and International Relations Directorate, University of Sierra Leone, in her remarks, said that the Departments of Language studies and the Faculty of Engineering and Architecture at Fourah Bay College (FBC) and the Faculty of Nursing at the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS) would be the first to enhance the implementation of the MOU. She suggested that some of the areas for possible partnership should include study visits by faculty and staff of the University of Sierra Leone to Guinea and vice versa. This process, she added, would allow staff and students of both Universities to interact and to have first-hand experience in speaking English and French.

In another related development, members of the visiting team from Ahmadou Dieng University of Guinea and staff of the University of Sierra Leone paid a courtesy call on the Minister of Technical and Higher Education, Professor Aiah Gbakima at his New England Ville Office in Freetown where he was fully briefed about the proposed educational and professional partnership and other related matters including the extension of the partnership to also incorporate Senegal.

Photo shows the Minister of Technical and Higher Education Professor Aiah Gbakima  sitting at the extreme end of the round table with the delegation on both sides, and standing at  right side of the table, is Prince Kenny who was the  interpreter

Responding to the briefing, the Minister of Technical and Higher education said that Sierra Leoneans as well as Guineans had lost many job opportunities because of what he described as bilingual deficiency. He pointed out that institutional partnership through the Memorandum of Understanding would help address both cultural and language barriers adding that both Universities should take urgent action by way of implementing the MOU noting further that all areas of interest that would promote the mandate of both Universities should be taken into consideration.

During their stay, members of the visiting delegation embarked on faculty and departmental visits across the University of Sierra Leone including the Faculty of Nursing where discussions were held on how to roll out the MOU. It was agreed that the first batch of students from the Language Studies department of Fourah Bay College would leave for the Ahmadou Dieng University in October 2019 for one semester, where they would be taught and assessed. The result according to university officials would form part of the cumulative assessment for promotion to the next academic year.

A cross section of the visiting team and staff of USL pose for a group photograph at the entrance of the Faculty of Nursing