CATERING TO THE NEEDS OF THE BIOTECHNOLOGY INDUSTRY
CD4D and Sierra Leone
In March, Hakeem Gibril arrived in Sierra Leone for a one month assignment at Ernest Bai Koroma University of Science and Technology (EBKUST) in the Tonkolili District of Northern Sierra Leone. He is a young Sierra Leonean Clinical Research Scientist who lives and works in the Netherlands.
Due to his specific knowledge and skills, he volunteered to take part in the IOM Migration and Development project called Connecting Diaspora for Development. This particular assignment was aimed at helping to design and develop a BSc. (Hons) undergraduate curriculum in biotechnology.
The institution hopes to address the gap between its Bachelor Undergraduate Programme in Biotechnology and the labour market.
Hakeem described his experience as overwhelmingly positive, and that the institution was very welcoming. He further exclaimed: “To be in such a friendly atmosphere makes you feel really relaxed and motivated to accomplish your task and even more!”
"What was immediately evident was the ease with which I was accepted within their ranks. And that, as I found out later, was organic and not because I'm Sierra Leonean but it is in their nature".
His assignment led to concrete recommendations to help the university programme to cater for industry, research and societal needs but also for students to develop skills in these areas.
Hakeem firstly advised that the infrastructure of the programme needs to gain funding for lab space and equipment. His second recommendation is that key stakeholders include potential employers to take part in the curriculum development through workshops or symposiums. Lastly, he recommended that the university improves its outreach efforts by utilising social media platforms and builds a website, as well as organizing open days targeted at high schools and the public. He also encourages the forging of links with other universities in the country.
Overall, Hakeem's participation in the project has introduced new ideas for his institution to work with and laid the foundation for future participation.