The Sierra Leone Minister for Higher and Technical Education, Professor Alpha Tejan Wurie, a lifelong educator and one of Sierra Leone’s brightest minds, is in London attending the Education World Forum (EWF2022).
The EWF is the world’s largest gathering of education ministers, educators and related skilled professionals which provides an action-oriented platform to explore the issues pertaining to this crucial sector. The forum seeks tangible solutions to the complex and growing challenges around the world.
Considering the unprecedented disruption to the teaching and learning culture, exacerbated by the onset of the Covid -19 pandemic, the 2022 Forum has had a particular relevance and a ringing resonance amongst professionals in search of tangible solutions to endemic and mutating challenges.
The theme for this year, “Education: building forward together, stronger, bolder, better”, has been taking a close look at how national education systems, globally, have responded to the devastating pandemic, in terms of “students’ attendance, well-being, and attainment”, and how this has impacted schools, colleges, tertiary sectors, and “particular groups such as the disadvantaged and those in isolated communities.”
The sessions extensively explored the effectiveness of successful policies and actions looking not just at the socio-economic impact of the pandemic, with particular reference to how this has affected Education, but also how Education is, in itself, being used, or could be used to mitigate the evolving layered situation.
As one of the highly respected panelists, with a reputation neatly earned from an enduring association with education, Professor Alpha Wurie gave an expansive analysis of the Sierra Leonean situation and how the country was rebuilding its educational system to adapt to and/or overcome some of the challenges. The professor spoke about the wider societal problems caused by epidemics, pandemics as well as by conflict situations and he dwelled, at length, on the challenges faced during the process of integrating emotionally traumatised children into the relative normalcy of existing mainstream educational settings. The minister also talked about Sierra Leone’s newly energised pathway on the educational highway, not just in terms of the renewed emphasis placed on learning but also in the sustained thrust towards using available technology to try and tackle some aspects of the challenges. He talked about the experimental (but ultimately rewarding) move towards the use of mobile phones and transistor radios for teaching and learning, especially during long lockdown periods occasioned by the Covid pandemic.
The three-day forum which ended yesterday, 25/05/2022, looked at both the short- and long-term challenges as well as the vistas of promising prospects.
To properly leverage Sierra Leone’s position on this important global stage, Professor Alpha Wurie, dutifully supported by the Sierra Leone High Commission, also had critical one-to-one meetings with individual players and key educational organisations during the course of the event whose venue rotated between Lancaster House and the Queen Elizabeth II Centre in centre London.
The Professor had very fruitful discussions with, amongst others, the Rt. Hon Vicky Ford, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean). He also met with members of the Education Commission, a key global initiative dedicated to ensuring inclusive and quality education. There was also an insightful meeting with EdTech Hub, a research organisation that deploys technology to expand education; as well as with COURSERA, a giant global online portal which offers courses to individuals and organisations catering to over a hundred million learners.
Professor Alpha Wurie would be returning to Sierra Leone with another hefty harvest of great ideas and a fine mix of varying approaches that would further nourish HE President Julius Maada Bio’s golden vision to provide Sierra Leone with a Free Quality Education and ultimately make the future of the nation fairer and stronger and better!