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Sierra Leone News: KKY’s statements offend Peace Students

Dr. Kandeh Kolleh YumkellaExcerpts from a recent interview on the Voice of America with Presidential aspirant Dr. Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella (KKY), has left students of the Department of Peace and Conflict Studies of Fourah Bay College resentful. The student association of the department is demanding KKY apologize and retract his statement.
On the radio, KKY stated, “…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.”
The Peace and Conflict Department was established in 2002 following the end of the 11-year civil war in Sierra Leone. Some of the modules studied in the department are Peace Education, Peace Studies, Human Rights and Democracy, Democracy and Good Governance, International Law, Industrial Relations, Humanitarian Law, Media and Peace Building, among others.
According to the President of the Student’s Association, Abdul Kpaka, there are about 1,000 students presently admitted at the department. He said these modules can usher graduates into the following disciplines; media critic/analyst, community mediator, policy analyst, public relations, researchers and so on.
He cited universities, colleges and institutes in the five continents that run programmes of Peace, Conflicts and Security Studies.  Kpaka said he met with KKY but could not get any tangible explanation. “This decision is not based on any political influence or any intention to damage his political career,” Kpaka said.
John Ngeba is an alumnus of the department presently working with Don Bosco Fambul a child protection organisation. He said students from the department are employable. He said the course is interdisciplinary and it deals with so many issues of human rights, gender, and law. “The United Nations was formed on the basis of peace and security, so for somebody to say that it is not important… I doubt his activities at the United Nations.”
A final year student of the department, Rebecca Kargbo, urged all to see the essence of peace studies, “it is about developing others we help others to grow”. The release furthered, “We therefore wonder in what sense does Yumkella mean that a Peace and Conflict degree has nothing to do for one in life when in fact the very institution that employed him for more than 30 years was based on Peace and Security… We therefore consider Yumkella’s utterances as an attack not only on Peace and Conflict but on the entire academic society.”
Efforts to reach Kandeh Kolleh Yumkella for a comment were unsuccessful. He did not respond to calls or text messages.
ES/1/8/17
By Edna Smalle
Wednesday August 02, 2017.

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