By Ishmael Sallieu Koroma
The Registrar Eastern Polytechnic in Kenema, Eastern Sierra Leone , John Juana has appealed to the government to grant them a university status.
John Juana made this statement on Friday whilst speaking on behalf of the Principal of the polytechnic at the National Youth Innovations awards ceremony organised by UNDP and partners at Eastern Polytechnic, Kenema Town , Eastern Region.
‘’ I was just trying to catalogue the views of the people of the East and by extension the entire country . You will realise that issue of Eastern Polytechnic for having a university in the East is not new it is the clarion call that the people have been making for the past 15 years and so it is becoming so glaring that even as we speak, we still do not have the university status . The East is going without a university. And so, I used the opportunity whilst welcoming the entourage from the Youths Commission, the UNDP and all stakeholders present to see how we can all work together to ensure we have a university in the East,’’ he said.
He added that the Eastern Polytechnic is the only higher institution of learning in the East stating that they are one of the leading technical institutions in the country.
‘’we have been doing a lot and we have done a lot. In terms of infrastructure we have what it takes. We have one the biggest libraries , very stuff library , we have the man power capacity . All what we need is to see how we can build on that one. Our argument is that , it could be nice we start with what we have and build on it than starting a new university . if you say you want to construct a new university , build up you don’t even know how long it will take. In the first place we all know now that the economic status of the government everybody is saying there is no money . why can’t we give the university to an institution that has a semblance of that, it could be a technical university ,’’ Juana lamented.
The Eastern Polytech Registrar said they are losing a lot of youths from Kenema through migration to the western area of Freetown adding that majority of those youths do not come back and therefore settle in Freetown.
When asked about the government view of them having a university status he replied that ‘’ The government is not averse to it , we know they are very positive about it , the Ministry of Education has done so much in fact the reason why they are now reviewing the Universities Act perhaps to take care some one those calls that are part of the Universities Act to correct a lot of things.
Mr. Juana went on to say they implore them, as it is a process even though it has taken too long adding that they are calling on the government to grant them a university status as the discussions are very evident on different radio stations in the district thus stating that the people of Kenema themselves wanted their only higher education becoming a university.
“we have the polytechnic character that we will want to maintain so that it become distinct that we also infuse not only the skills of you going to the classroom to learn but we are taking practical’s on board. We are giving internship programme, we are also ensuring that there is time allocated for practical purposes. Apart from that, we are infusing into all our programmes , entrepreneurship skills training so that even if you are going to train as a carpenter we make sure you get the technique of establishing your business and creating employment for people,’’
The Polytechnic administrator ended by calling on government to capacitate them as an institution as they are the only higher institution of learning in the Eastern Region of the country.