As a way of complementing His Excellency President Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma’s Post Ebola Recovery Priorities, the All Peoples Congress (APC) led government through the outstanding female Minister of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs – Honourable Dr Sylvia Olayinka Blyden has on Thursday June 30th 2016 unveiled fifty (50) international scholarship slots for Sierra Leone Ebola survivors to do long distance diploma courses in business entrepreneurship.
The online course classes will be delivered through the Internet to Sierra Leone Ebola survivors by The Network University (TNU) which is based in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Professor Dr. Gerd Junne, the University chairman who is visiting Sierra Leone from Europe with University Director Prof. Vic Klabbers, as guests of Sierra Leone citizen Ambassador Charles Boye of MasterPeace, confirmed that the online diploma programme is going to be a twelve (12) months online and offline hands-on training that will certify 50 competent Ebola survivors as having acquired the basic skills of empowerment through business entrepreneurship.
Prof. Junne was addressing a gathering at the conference room of the Ministry of Social Welfare, Gender and Children’s Affairs in New Englandville, Freetown.
Furthermore, Professor Dr. Gerd Junne also confirmed that students who will be enrolled into his University are going to enjoy similar quality of classes and teachings as those out in Amsterdam. He assured that their grading and assignments are going to be supervised by highly educated lecturers at TNU. He said he wanted survivors in at least three districts to benefit. He further added that the training is going to kick start as soon as the Government is able to identify three (3) districts that have high speed and reliable internet access through which the courses are to be delivered.
The Professor also assured that after the 12 month successful trainings, applicants will be awarded internationally recognized diploma certificates from TNU.
Responding to the conditions set by The Network University, Honourable Dr. Sylvia Olayinka Blyden, whose ministry covers the welfare of Ebola survivors, assured that her ministry will do everything to ensure that the trainings start within the shortest possible period. Hon. Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden used the occasion to inform that with support from Save the Children International, her ministry has hired a Consultant – Mr. Ibrahim Pat Sowe, who also on that day, signed an initial three months contract with the ministry. One of Mr. Pat Sowe’s jobs will be to supervise the building of a definitive database and computerized welfare tracking system for Sierra Leone Ebola survivors.
Hon. Blyden said, through this upcoming database system, her ministry would be able to get a complete detail of all Ebola survivors across the country as well as track their progress over the months ahead.
“The database which Mr. Pat Sowe is going to supervise the development of, will ensure the Ministry and its Key Partners can track successes, identify failures and pick up lapses in service delivery to Ebola survivors,” Hon. Dr. Blyden said, adding “we are immensely grateful to Save The Children for this support”.
In addition, Hon. Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden further confirmed that her ministry has already identified a possible location in Eastern Freetown where the ministry, with support from UNDP, will install a 24 hours High Speed Internet facility powered by Solar energy and for Ebola survivors to access at any time of the day or night.
She said, the upcoming facility will contain dozens of computer stations and will be manned and controlled by Ebola survivors themselves.
Furthermore, Hon. Dr. Sylvia Blyden also assured that government will look into developing policies for Ebola survivors to not only become entrepreneurs but also to giving them extra advantage in competing for businesses during the coming months.
She encouraged survivors to undertake trainings in a way that they themselves will also employ and empower other Ebola survivors.
Whilst expressing his overwhelming thanks, President of Sierra Leone Association Ebola Survivours (SLAES) – Yusuf Kabba referred to Hon. Dr. Sylvia O. Blyden as “our real mother who cares for us Ebola survivors as her children.”
He expressed delight for the relentless efforts of the minister towards ensuring that the interest and welfare of Ebola survivors are cared for. He thanked the visiting professors from Netherlands and assured SLAES will only submit capable survivors for the training. He told Mr. Pat Sowe that SLAES was looking forward to working with him. The programme was also attended by the Policy and Information Management Adviser of Save the Children International- Dr. Fabrizio Valentin who handed over the MOU that will fund Mr. Pat Sowe’s consultancy. On behalf of the ministry, the vote of thanks was delivered by Mr. Saio Marrah who leads the President’s Post Ebola Recovery programme at the Ministry.
Awareness Times, 5th July 2016