Words when not carefully said have the potential to set the whole world of the speaker on fire. Words are a loaded pistol. If not cautiously used, it could hurt even the owner. This is what has happened to Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, the man aspiring to contest next year’s elections as a presidential candidate of the opposition.
Kandeh Yumkella may not have meant harm, but his words have created hard feelings.
During an interview with the VOA, Mr. Yumkella said :
“…60-70% of our young people are unemployed. People graduating from the university – three years later – no jobs. What do you do? First of all, the type of education matters. You have so many of our youths graduating in the Peace and Conflict Studies. What’s that going to do for you in life? We need them in other professions that can make them employable. The type of education we are giving them have to make them employable.” A press statement issued by the students reads, “This statement simply implies that the Peace and Conflict discipline is irrelevant and graduates with Peace and Conflict degrees are not employable.”
This remark has annoyed students of Fourah Bay College taking the course and some other citizens.
HERE ARE RESPONSES TO DR. KANDEH YUMKELLA :
*MY REACTION TO DR. KANDEH YUMKELLA’S COMMENTS ABOUT PEACE AND CONFLICT STUDIES*
By: Teddy Foday-Musa
Lecturer Dept. of Peace & Conflict Studies – FBC.
I am currently out of the country in the United States of America. However, I am following the trend of events back home. One of the events that has captured my attention, is the audio statement made by Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, with regards our university study program – “Peace and Conflict Studies”. In his statements, he raised the question of why should Peace and Conflict Studies be offered by so many students at FBC, when there are other better programs than Peace and Conflict Studies.
This statement comes as a disappointment to those of us who over the years, have contributed in developing the skills of young Sierra Leoneans to professionalise in areas like – Peace building, Peacemaking, Conflict Mediation, UN Peace Mission Programs, and how to promote and sustain Human Security. More than ten years ago, Bradford University in the United Kingdom, one of the world’s renowned institutions for Peace and Conflict Studies, contributed in setting up the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies at Fourah Bay College. Time and resources have gone into this program. Today, it is one of the fastest growing programs at Fourah Bay College. Most of our graduates from the honours school, get automatic scholarship to countries like – Japan, China, and Italy for further studies. Some of our students have picked up jobs within the country, in the Diaspora and some with the UN system. Some of them are working with UN missions around the world as professional conflict mediators.
Peace and conflict Studies is the brain child of the United Nations. There are more than 20 top placed Universities offering Peace and Conflict Studies as undergraduate and post graduate programs, with support from the United Nations. The United Nations was founded in 1945 after the Second World War. It principles are deeply rooted in managing and promoting Global Peace, which is all what Peace and Conflict Studies is about. Sustainable development – is only possible when we teach ourselves how to live in peace, and how to resolve conflicts. This is what the UN has been preaching since 1945 to-date. Therefore, Dr. Kandeh Yumkella should know that, the UN badge of honour he carries around as his pride, was vested and rested on the foundation stone of Peace and Conflict Studies. One time UN Secretary General Ghanaian born Kofi Anna , after his retirement from the UN, established the Kofi Anna Institute of Peace Studies in Ghana, training professionals in peace and conflict resolution and UN mission deployment programs. Similarly so, one would have expected Dr. Yumkella, our own retired UN Diplomat, to promote the study of Peace and Conflict in the name of Global Peace, rather than criticising it.
Peace and conflict Studies is a multidimensional area of academic study. It draws from, political science, sociology, history, international relations, law, and human security.
I am a Class seven Rotary Peace Fellow. I hold a Masters Degree in International Studies in the area of Peace and Conflict Resolution, from the University of Queensland – Brisbane, Australia. I am the first Sierra Leonean to receive academic sponsorship for a Masters program in Peace Studies by Rotary International. I am currently a staff PhD Candidate in Peace and Conflict Studies at the School of Postgraduate Studies – University of Sierra Leone, and Lecturer at the Department of Peace and Conflict – FBC. Life is treating me well with my Peace and Conflict Studies Degree. I am also a certified Nonviolence trainer, certified by the Department of Nonviolence and Peace Studies at the University of Rhode Island in the US. I come to US every year as a trainer, to take part in a Kingian level-1 nonviolence training for over 50 professionals from different parts of the globe.
Please don’t get me wrong, this is not being boastful. I just want to give an insight to Dr. Yumkella, to know why and how Peace and Conflict Studies has transformed my life and taken me to places,for which I know has done the same for hundreds of graduates in Peace and Conflict Studies. I have a job today because of the value of Peace and Conflict Studies.
In view of the forgone, with all due respect to Dr. Yumkella, it is my view that his comments were unfounded, and disrespectful to the University of Sierra Leone, the Department of Peace and conflict Studies – FBC, our International affiliated institutions, current students and graduates of Peace and Conflict Studies, together with their financial sponsors,and their lecturers. I am not demanding any apology from you sir, but good if in your wisdom, you can apologise publicly for making such comments.
Rotary Peace Fellow and Lecturer Dept. of Peace and Conflict Studies-FBC.
*That Kandeh Yumkella statement over VoA on Peace and Conflict Studies: A critical appraisal*
By C. A. C. Jengo Snr
I now have the audio of KKY speaking on peace and conflict studies. I think I am now well placed to wade into this debate. The beauty about the Sierra Leone social media is, week after week, we have issues of controversy or perceived controversies to deal with. And the debates can be so interesting and informative that one cannot cease to bless (ironically) the whiteman for this technological revolution in the blackman’s life. But all too often matters are spoilt in the ensuing debates by the quick degeneration of same into hate, mistrust and distrust, the very condiments for a relapse to a fractious, senseless war.
Against this backdrop and further stretched in context is the overwhelming fact that peace and conflict studies are necessary in our universities, mindful that it is a welcome consequence of a decade long war that had a lot to do with the complete breakdown of a society.
The Abidjan Accord and the Lome Accords that ended the Sierra Leone war were the first international documents to underpin that for reconciliation to stand the test of time, peace and conflict studies were needed because of the potential for such academic ventures to help in future to “hold the tide” against any potential swell of conflicts that may lead to another breakdown of the State of Sierra Leone. The TRC’s recommendations captured these same sentiments in many of their public hearings and, not surprisingly, well articulated the relevance and resonance of such studies on the future generation to not only consolidate peace but, like most agreed during and after the conflict, to serve as a tool to document the activities of those of us who tomorrow could be held to answer for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
_So much on the relevance of this course at our universities._
The point I want to make, though, is that if one followed the line of Dr Kandeh Yumkella in that VoA interview, if one looked at his statement from the point of view of his context (at the time it was *unemployment among the youths*), one would find nothing wrong with his contribution. It is his contextual meaning of his allusion to conflict studies as being ‘redundant’ that seems missing in the arguments of those who have seized it up against him.
His sight were set squarely on disproportionately high levels of youth unemployment where graduates go without jobs for up to three years, he said. And in that context, when one looks at the newspaper vacancies and the academic requirements let alone the job experience required, one can convincingly vindicate him. It is not “every quarter” in the year you see the need for a political scientist and, for that matter, a peace and conflict studies graduate. And the consequence has been a field day for expats to bring in expatriates and professionals with the right qualifications and experience to fill many well paid jobs that could otherwise be for Sierra Leoneans. Now, these days, when you open the papers what you see are loads of vacancies advertised by mining companies. What you see are loads upon loads of consultancies in health and agriculture and health. What you see are start-ups looking for professionals with computer skills and application development. Amidst that plenty you, once in a while, come across vacancies in the humanities and which attract the majority of the applications. And this gives (over all) a distorted unemployment deficit relative to requisite qualifications for the available jobs.
Who can deny the overwhelming majority of our graduates (Popular Expression News puts it at 65%) graduate on courses in the humanities, in Theology, Sociology, Politics, Philosophy — you name them. There are far too many Peace and Conflict studies students than are needed. In the same way there are too many of the listed and unlisted others.
This has to change. This skills deficit has to be functionally and structurally addressed. Youth unemployment is now the greatest threat to our peace and stability. And it is in that context I understood Yumkella.
I wasn’t wearing my party cap when writing this. I decided to put Sierra Leone first — _this one time_.
Barry Honnah I totally disagree with this piece. KKY committed a faux pas that exposed his lack of political maturity and gravitas. In the UK graduates in chemistry and other science subjects end up as career administrators in the Civil Service while graduates in the Classics end up as accountants and CEO’s. What is lacking is to the relevant a of Peace and Conflicts studies but rather the ability of our education system to mould aptitudes to suit the relevance of modern day business. In this schema of things, then, there is no reason why someone with a degree in Peace and Conflict studies cannot be trained in advanced Excel spreadsheets and data analysis or in Marketing and so on. Unfortunately KKY has looked at this whole issues with an incredible hackneyed and traditional lens. And that makes him seem pretty light weight in my view.
Reports reaching us say one Peace and Conflict Studies student at FBC attempted to commit suicide this afternoon in his home at Kissy Mess Mess. He was reportedly caught with a can of caustic soda which he was about to consume inside his bedroom.
The final year student, Alimamy Goba was said to have left a note in which he expressed frustration over derogatory comments recently made by Kandeh Yumkella about his course of study.
Alimamy’s father, Pa Alfred Goba was quoted to described Kandeh Yumkellah’s statement as “reckless and immature.” … “if anything happen to my son, I will hold Kandeh personally responsible” he charged.
“Kandeh Yumkella has demonstrated he lacks what it takes to become a leader….his irresponsible statement will now cause serious psychological problems for those students and their families. What moral authority does he have to talk about education when he has not constructed a single classroom for his own village in Kambia? This man is a big disgrace” remarked Alfred Saidu, a school teacher in Freetown.
The former UN diplomat now turned “thread-mill politician” has come under heavy criticism over comments he made about the Peace and Conflict Studies discipline offered by hundreds of students at FBC.
More details coming soon.
© Frank News