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Sierra Leone News: Internet connectivity hits USL, POW and other

Hundreds of final year students at Fourah Bay College (FBC) and the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) are currently struggling to complete their dissertation and access their grades due to unavailability of the free Internet services on their campuses. Internet facilities went off three weeks ago.  The Government of Sierra Leone through the ECOWAS Regional Backbone Infrastructure and e-Government Programe (ECOWAN) provided free Internet connectivity for FBC, IPAM, College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS), Milton Margai College and selected secondary schools. Prince of Wales, St. Joseph Convent, Freetown Secondary School for Girls are beneficiaries of the free Internet project that should last for two years. Students and pupils at the selected colleges and schools were benefiting from this service and accessing their notes responding to assignments on time. According to Samuel, a final year student at FBC, he is finding it very difficult to access his materials to complete his dissertation, which he should submit in December 2018. He explained that most of his colleagues are facing similar constraints, as they have to travel into downtown to access Internet café to complete their work. He said it’s expensive and slow.  Mariama Koroma, a 3rd year student, disclosed she was finding it very difficult to compile her notes during the exams. Most of the time she uses the Internet for further information to add to her notes.  She maintained that in most cases lecturers send assignments and vital information through their e-mail addresses. But throughout these past three weeks they are struggling with their studies. Fatmata Jalloh, a student at IPAM, expressed dissatisfaction over the current situation. She said on Friday 28 September 2018, they were informed by their Head of Department to check their e-mail for their grades but unfortunately they have to move off campus to pay and access their grades. According to the Principal of Prince of Wales Senior Secondary School, Micheal A. Bundoh, the unavailability of Internet over the last three weeks has affected the school operations as they are unable to access and share vital information relating to the pupils. He disclosed teachers and pupils were downloading information pertinent to their education. Since the installation of the free Internet facility pupils attend classes early and regularly and after school they spend time downloading additional notes. “These pupils also stay within the school compound very late using the Internet, which exposes them to new things and improves their learning,” he said. Since the school re-opened, the pupils are finding it difficult to access the internet as not all of them can afford to buy data from the various mobile networks. Bundoh disclosed that with pressure from the teachers and pupils he decided to contact the Director of the service provider, Tiwai Memory, Mohamed Turay, who informed him about a disconnection at the main hub at FBC Kennedy building. Turay maintained they have sent a letter of complaint to the Ministry of Information on the disconnection that was done at the router at the Kennedy building without his knowledge. He said the project is still under the supervision of Tiwai and is yet to be handed over. They are waiting on the response from the Ministry as they are preparing for a legal action on the disconnection of the facility that is causing embarrassment for them and also depriving the rightful beneficiaries. The Director of Information Communication and Technology at FBC, Fatu Taqi, confirmed the Internet facility is down at the moment. The ECOWAS ICT Minister in 2010 adopted the implementation strategy for the actualization of the ECOWAN project as a way of improving the poor national backbone and cross-border connectivity within and between ECOWAS Member States. The Government of Sierra Leone requested funds from the Islamic Development Bank (IDB) on 29th October 2010 for the implementation of the segment of the ECOWAS Regional Backbone Infrastructure & e-Governance Program – ECOWAN Sierra Leone in the country.

AMK/29/9/18

By Alhaji Manika Kamara

Monday October 01, 2018.

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