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When the University becomes an Oppressor of Society

When the University becomes an Oppressor of Society

My people!! I was bamboozled and heartbroken to read an ominous Press Release from the University of Sierra Leone titled ‘Education and the Rule of Law’ in the morning hours of Tuesday the 9th of January 2012, on some local tabloids.  This Press Release which I carefully read, borders on recent events at Fourah Bay College for which the University has penalised students, on account of general indiscipline and insubordination during the 2011/12 academic year.

As a matter of fact, it is all good to hear University authorities trumpeting their campaign that will see students maintain discipline and duly observe law and order; in a bid to making them become exemplary intellectuals on whose shoulders the country’s present and future lie. Besides, such a move (if not ill-motivated), would be seen to be in full support of the President’s agenda to eradicate lawlessness, which over the years has become entrenched in so many facets of the country.

However, let me also mention that knowing the true nature of events on the once Athens of West Africa for more than a decade, I can confidently assert that the administration of Fourah Bay College had lost the leadership expertise required to superintend the affairs of the institution long ago. I am talking about a leadership that allows the concerns and welfare of students to be supreme in the University’s agenda.

Having cautiously followed the recent turmoil between students of FBC and the University authorities, and with the current decision taken by the University Court to rusticate 32 students and wickedly withhold the results of former Students’ Union President , Siman Conteh, I can only safely say that the University continues to enjoy leverage in unleashing tyranny on innocent students and parents whose educational investments are being rendered useless.

To my utmost surprise, one Malcolm Kpana who is the only blind student of the college and currently pursuing an LLB programme is also said to have been rusticated. What a wicked act perpetuated on a poor student who could not even hurt a fly? It even shocks me further that not even the intervention by the Chancellor of the university, H.E. Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma could bring forth a lasting solution to what was clearly seen as heavy-handedness on the part of the administration.

The underlying principle of this decision is certainly not, in any shape or form an attempt by the University to ensure the prevalence of law and order. Certainly Not! Rather, it is just one out of its many actions taken to falsely accuse, seriously oppress and unfairly punish students who are blindly seen by some members of the public as violators of the law or trouble-makers.

Students have gone through FBC under very difficult circumstances in which they are being subjected to all sorts of victimisation. Some years ago when I just entered FBC, I still recall how the former Deputy Registrar of FBC, S.N. Dumbuya single-handedly engineered the unfair rustication of former NUSS President and now Kailahun District Council Chairman, Alex Bonapha.  On a similar note, before the 2009 Congregation members of the Alhaji Komeh executive and other students either had their results withheld or rusticated, until the magnanimous intervention of some members of the University Court overwhelmed the decision and resulted in the imposition of fines.

Despite the administrative inadequacy and ineptitude which the University authorities have exhibited over a long time, it still baffles me that previous governments have not been able to diagnose the plethora of problems affecting the University, and accordingly impose the much needed overhaul of its leadership. It is my view that the leaders of our University are never subjected to scrutiny and held culpable by the government when their actions are found to be the inherent causes of campus disturbances.

Well, the rustication of students and withholding of the result of the former SU President in my view is a gross display of oppression and voluminously undermines the current Agenda for Prosperity which pays premium on education and the empowerment of our youths. Fairly speaking, I just cannot see how this decision is right. I therefore implore on the Ministry of Education to intervene in this matter and see that fairness prevails. Considering the kind of country in which we live where people are averse to venting out their views, I would use this medium to awaken the affected parents and suggest that they support these students in the worthy fight to see the full exercise of justice.

Former FBC student

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