Vanguard  with 

Fears About Africa’s New Universities

 - Thursday 17 May 2012.

Commentary

By Jose Tenga, Alberta, Canada.

My comments do not relate directly to the present discussion about the never-ending scourge of corruption in Salone. My comments are about what appears to be the proliferation of "UNIVERSITIES" in the country. This is the first I’ve heard of a ’University of Makeni’.

The consequences on national development, of inadequately or poorly trained manpower are far-reaching and devastating on the future prospects of our country. Ghana is presently struggling with the pressure of employing the surge of ’graduates’ from private "UNIVERSITIES" seeking employment for which they are not properly trained. In most cases, these ’graduates’ would not even qualify for entry into the mainstream national universities for which Ghana is renowned. They therefore ’sneak through the back door’ into these private schools that masquerade as "UNIVERSITIES", ending up inadequately trained and lacking the confidence to contribute to national development.

As a consequence, you have a whole bunch of people purporting to be qualified, laying claim to jobs and opportunities for which they are not trained. Most cannot even draft a simple letter of application, let alone face the huge competition on the job market. These are the people, when faced with inquiries from outsiders, have no clue how to handle themselves because they lack the inner confidence to demonstrate the ability or competence that comes from quality education.

Last year, I was a front row witness to how this problem translates into huge obstacles to development. There are more than 200 "UNIVERSITIES" in Khartoum, Sudan. For a start, every state has a "UNIVERSITY" and there are more than 15 states in the north. The ’graduates’ of these institutions are having a hard time matching up to the professional requirements and demands of international agencies and NGOs. Inadequate language communication skills compound the challenges, so the country is fighting for its development on multiple fronts.

In one particular case, a faculty at a major university proposed a P.HD program for all 500 of its nursing students - imagine that! Not only was there no faculty to conduct such a challenging project, but even basic resources to complete a decent undergraduate program are absent. Most nurses could not even function at the Bachelor level. Yet, they were being prepared for a ’Doctoral’ program because their services were required across the Gulf. Imagine what these ’Doctors’ will do to their patients when they are thrown into the mix!

This is why Sierra Leone should be very careful of flinging the doors of university education so wide open that ’all may enter’. At the moment, there are very few P.HDs at Fourah Bay College, the premier university. So who are faculty at these proliferating "UNIVERSITIES"?

The consequences for future development of a poorly trained work force would be catastrophic and damaging on all fronts.

Editor’s note: Perhaps the University of Makeni could display the names and qualifications of their teaching staff on their website which, by the way, looks very professional. I understand the school has a number of visiting professors from the US and Europe. Over to you Emmanuel Turay, PRO, UNIMAK.