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KKY’s Comments on Peace & Conflict Studies at FBC

KKY’s Comments on Peace & Conflict Studies at FBC

Dr. Kandeh Yumkella’s recent interview on VOA in which he observed that some of the courses being offered at the University were not in line with current market demands and the country’s developmental needs.

Dr. Yumkella made a specific reference to the Peace and Conflict Studies being offered at Fourah Bay College that accounts for 1000 students pursuing degrees in this domain.

KKY’s remarks have been followed by an avalanche of angry reactions from Sierra Leoneans especially students pursuing the course at FBC.

The course director, Gibril Foday-Musa reacted angrily taking the remarks personal.

Everywhere in the world, people don’t just study for the sake of studying. People study with the objective of getting jobs upon completing their studies in order to get jobs and take care of their families.

In effect, it is against this background that modern universities streamline their course works with the job market.

Market experts and universities assess the relevance of subjects offered at universities by carrying surveys on graduates that are gainfully employed within one year after graduation.

For ease of reference, I would like to number my points:

1) Peace Education is a very important subject and Peace Education specialists are needed in every country

2) 1000 students offering Peace Education is too large number given the extremely limited jobs available in the market

3) Given Sierra Leone’s development needs, courses offered in our universities should place emphasis on training technicians like civil and electrical engineers, electricians, plumbers, telephone technicians, Internet technicians, Urban and Rural area planners, agriculturists, economists, accountants, teachers, doctors, nurses, among others. Economic growth depends on the aforementioned categories of technicians and not on a large number of peace educators

4) Sierra Leone will certainly not continue to stagnate in its current abysmal state forever. The tide may one day change to usher in rapid economic development activities. Graduates with technical skills will be needed in the job market to sail along with the country’s developmental aspirations. I don’t see any demand here for peace educators in a job market based on demand and supply.

6) A degree in peace education cannot be related to the current job market in Sierra Leone. The course has not yet been absorbed by the teaching field which is the largest employer in the country. This means a graduate in peace education doesn’t even have the chance of getting a simple teaching job.

7) The course director in his arguments noted that graduates in peace education have the possibility to work for NGOs and the UN. It is true that NGOs may recruit a few and the UN may also absorb an infinitesimal number. Sierra Leone presently has very few NGOs operating in the country. And most of the NGOs are already staffed. The UN recruits candidates with several years of job experiences either with NGOs or UN agencies. Vacancies are published worldwide and candidates compete with other qualified applicants. Post graduate degrees are required for most vacancies nowadays. This means that a new graduate may take several years before getting the minimum requirements to be shortlisted for a post in the UN. Several persons working for the UN can confirm this.

8) Peace education is covered by a section called Political Affairs which serves as the interface between the host government and non state actors. This is one of the most important sections of every UN peacekeeping mission. The section is staffed with career diplomats, former ministers, political leaders and highly trained and qualified persons with a wealth of experience in leadership etc. The chances of a peace education graduate being recruited by the UN before 5 years are very remote. The UN is already saturated with serious budget constraints. Sierra Leoneans don’t make up 5% of the total UN workforce deployed across the world.

10) The comments made by Dr. Kandeh Yumkella are 100% accurate. He has been obliged to explain himself since as a politician, he needs every single vote and doesn’t want to offend anybody.

11) Courses being offered in our universities need to be restructured to reflect both the job market and our development aspirations.

12) Training a large number of peace education students with no capacity to absorb them is like training space science technicians in a context where the people don’t even have basic knowledge on how to make their own roads and rely wholly and solely on the Chinese. KKY needs no apology for his constructive criticisms.

13) The whole education system has collapsed from the primary school to tertiary institutions and needs a complete overhaul. Today, we have semiliterate graduates who don’t even know the contents of their dissertations.

14) Today, students graduate with degrees that are not even useful to them as individuals let alone to the country. If we fail to recognise the dysfunctional status of our system of education out of our stone age tribal and partisan differences, we’re denying our children and generations coming after us the right to quality education.

by Idris Conteh
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