Authorities of the University of Liberia and those of the University of Sierra Leone have reached a consensus through signing a memorandum of understanding to facilitate collaboration in research, grant application, students, faculty and staff exchanges, curricula enhancement, visiting lectureship and seminars, cultural exchanges, joint publication and study visits amongst others.
The MoU between the two neighboring countries with homogenous culture and historical backgrounds was signed in the presence of the Sierra Leonean President and Chancellor of the University, Julius Maada Bio.
Representing Liberia’s premier university, the University of Liberia, were the President, Dr. Julius Julukon Sarwolo Nelson, Jr., and witnessed by the Vice President for Institutional Development and Planning, Associate Professor Weade Kobbah Boley. Also signing for the University of Sierra Leone was its Vice-Chancellor and Principal, Prof. Dr. Foday Sahr, and witnessed by the Registrar, Madam Olive Kash Barrie.
The signing ceremony on September 7 turned out to be attractive because, despite Sierra Leone University’s many memoranda of understanding with other local universities in Liberia, was between two state universities and was witnessed by the Head of State and Chancellor of the University of Sierra Leone, President Maada Bio.
The University of Sierra Leone had signed memoranda of understanding with Cuttington University and the United Methodist University earlier making its presence felt among Liberian academicians.
“The signing of memoranda would normally have been the business of the administrative heads of the universities. But the fact that the signing of this memorandum is being presided over by his Excellency the President, is not only another manifestation of the time and energy the President attaches to education at all levels in Sierra Leone, but also the relevance, recognition, and respect the President attaches to the long-standing bilateral relationship between Sierra Leone and Liberia; not only in the field of education but in many other areas of mutual concerns and interests,” said Prof. Dr. Sahr.
Prof. Dr. Sahr indicated that partnerships amongst higher education institutions are critical because no level of resource endowment can guarantee success for any institution in the education sector without collaboration.
Usually, when an MoU is signed, witnesses and beneficiaries develop high expectations about its implementation, and against this backdrop, the Vice-Chancellor was quick to mention that USL remains fully committed to the provisions of the MoU with the desire to implement all of the elements therein. He assured further that the presence of President Julius Maada Bio at the signing ceremony consolidates the status of the MoU and raises the zeal that it is implementable.
Rev. Dr. Julius Nelson was especially excited by the presence of his namesake, President Julius Maada Bio, and he emphasized the commonalities between Liberia and Sierra in culture, academic system history, and economic approach.
Both countries have colonial history traced to the repatriation of freed slaves; have agriculture and mining as bases of their economy, and are Anglophone countries. Rev. Dr. Nelson, realizing and acknowledging these commonalities, noted that they serve as a deep channel of integration for both countries’ education systems through collaboration and partnership, which according to him is overdue.
He noted that with the MoU, cross-cultural education will be enhanced through students, faculty, and staff exchange programs, which will promote peace, stability, and progress in the two countries aside from the direct net positive impact on research, innovation, and socio-economic development.
He commended President Maada Bio for attending the signing ceremony which according to him gives momentum to the MoU by building solid hope that it is implementable.
President Maada Bio, too, could waste no time challenging the two universities to begin the implementation of the MoU and to consider financing and sustainability mechanisms. The signing was also attended by key education stakeholders of Sierra Leone and Liberia including Education Minister Dr. Ansu Sonii.