AN OPEN LETTER TO THE NEW VICE CHANCELLOR AND PRINCIPAL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SIERRA LEONE

20/7/2006

Mr. Editor,

Please permit me space in your widely circulated and respected paper to air my views to the new Vice Chancellor and Principal of the University of Sierra Leone , Prof. Aiah Kpakima, on his positive moves aimed at reforming the University.

AN OPEN LETTER TO THE NEW VICE CHANCELLOR AND PRINCIPAL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF SIERRA LEONE

Dear Sir,

I want to very much thank you for the unprecedented move you have undertaken to correct the mess that have characterized the University of Sierra Leone (USL) for decades, especially Fourah Bay College (FBC), more especially the Department of Law.

Sir, generally, most lecturers in the Law Department have arrogated to themselves the right to make and unmake lawyers arbitrarily. The acts of these lecturers are inspired not by motives that have to do with academic merits; their concerns are exclusively determined by their selfish needs. In their defense for the extremely poor results the Department has been producing over the years, they have struggled to generate explanations for actions that can only be described as maliciously inspired.

All the evidence seem to reinforce the widely held theory that these so-called lecturers have deliberately transformed the Law Department into a monster that wickedly swallows its own products because it hates the anticipated competition from “boys” and “girls” it has nurtured. Some how, these lecturers created some many alarming artificial structures that give the Department some exclusivity, making it “more important” and “powerful” than other Departments, the consequence of which is that there has been no counter balance able to checkmate it, thank God Dr. Ashely later managed to, thought belatedly.

With the advent of you Professor, it seems like the good times are now back or at least they are not far away. The constant happy chatter on the lips of many Sierra Leoneans about the institution of a committee to probe that Department, and hopefully others, has made room for fresh hopes especially for students still in the Department and the nation as a whole.

Over the years, the Law Department suffered the misfortune of having as Head of Department a “fortune teller” who foretells to his students the exact number of those that will qualify to the Law School long before that batch reaches final year. In my year, he “predicted” a said number and true to his word, I was among the exactly “predicted” number that scored the required mark. Under his leadership as Head of the Department, Law has produced some of the worst results. Last academic year saw some of the worst results in that Department. Out of 28 Students, only 11 passed, five flat failures and the rest got what the University of Sierra Leone calls “Allow To Pass” Degrees. Well, for those who passed, who can take them to further their studies with third class degrees anyway? I have never been able to secure a scholarship ever since I qualified as a lawyer because I am THIRD CLASS GRADUATE. For a man to prophesy correctly, who is not in the business of prophecy anyway, sends one logical conclusion, that he maybe actively involved in making his prophesy come true, especially if he is the Head of Department who may have arrogated to himself the right to change marks as and how he feels without the consent of his colleagues who in fact present these marks to him in good faith. Some lecturers are even grumbling around that some of their marks were arbitrarily and significantly changed.

The Law Department is the only Department in the University of Sierra Leone that has never produced a first class student. Is it that in its more than 15 years of existence there has never being a student, not one, that has the capacity to make a first class degree? I beg to differ; rather, I will argue that the lectures are more responsible for bad results from that Department than the students who suffer the humiliation of failure year in year out. On the other hand, there are other students who do not even posses the academic qualifications to enter the Department, but they are being admitted either because they have strong ties with well-placed people in the Department or their family members are staff of the College. These are facts the investigative committee will surely unearthed, trust me, Sir.

Again, the Examinations Office cannot be easily exonerated in all of these. There have been instances in which marks sent by the Department to the Office have been systematically changed. To prove this Sir, let the investigating Committee check the raw scores sent by the lecturers to the Head of Department for onward transmission to the Examinations Office. Let these marks be crosschecked with the records kept by the lecturers themselves. Infact, there are instances in which the marks at the Examinations Office for a particular student are different from those sent to the Computer Room for conversion in line with the Modular System. The whole system is predicated on dangerous corruption.

Sir, I think I will do injustice to my conscience, the University and this country if I indict all of the lecturers in the Law Department. There are others who have displayed the highest peak of integrity. I say THANK YOU to them for their fairness.

Again, I want to thank you very much Mr Vice Chancellor. You are a refreshing breath to the University. Also, the Deputy Registrar and the Dean of the Faculty of Social Sciences and Law, and some people in the Examinations Office, I am told, have been very helpful to those affected students who have launched their protests. To them, I say kudus.

Mr. Vice Chancellor, I have no doubt that you took the right decision in not only forming the committee, but also those who constitute the committee. Justice Bankole Thompson, and Speaker of the House, Edmond Cowan, among others, are just the right people with the right mentality who can restore credibility and justice to that Department. Those who failed but deserved to pass should be passed and the reverse must be done for the other category who only made it to the Law School because they are well connected. LET JUSTICE BE DONE NOW, BECAUSE JUSTICE DELAYED IS JUSTICE DENIED.

Professor Sir, keep up the good job.

A concerned past student.

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