Sherbro Foundation was thrilled to offer our first college scholarship in 2017-18 for a girl graduating in Rotifunk. We’re now delighted seeing how awardee Aminata Kamara’s first year is shaping up at University of Sierra Leone’s Institute of Public Administration & Management where she’s studying Banking and Finance.
Aminata is the youngest of 18 children of now aged parents who no longer work. She was an exceptional high school student, receiving the highest results for a female student on the national completion exam among Moyamba District’s 40 secondary schools.
Moving from a quiet, rural village to the demanding urban environment of the capital Freetown, Aminata has quickly adapted. She shows, given the opportunity, intelligent, eager young people can catch up and perform well. Here’s our recent WhatsApp chat.
Arlene G.: What classes did you take in your first year? How did they go?
Aminata K.: In each year we have two semesters, each with six modules. First semester I took:
- Elements of Banking
- Principals of Accounting
- Information and Communication Technology [computer science]
- Human Resource Management
In second semester, there are new subjects. The classes are great. I’m doing fine.
AG: I’m glad to see you get an integrated approach with classes with like Human Resources Management from Year One. What are your biggest challenges in starting college?
AK: The high cost of transportation and high Internet cost. I can’t afford a computer laptop and a modem to do the required research.
I had to go to [an internet] café, left, to do some of those things and I pay a huge amount. Most of the tutors just give us topics and ask us to do our own research through Internet.
AG: Did you find anything surprisingly easy?
AK: I met new friends who are very hospitable. Some that are staying within the central area allowed me to stay with them during examination week so that we can study as a group, since I am staying in the far east end of Freetown where we experience a lot of traffic. I sometimes have to come down out of the [public transport] vehicle and hurry up on foot for me not to miss my lectures.
AG: Tell us about the teaching staff at U of Sierra Leone.
AK: We have good lecturers and they teach well. When I started taking lectures, I found it difficult to understand the way of teaching because it is a different way of teaching [lecture and take your own notes] to that of high school [teacher writes notes on board that students copy]. But I am okay with it now as I have just sat to my first semester exams. I am now enjoying the lectures.
AG: Are professors responsive to students and help you succeed?
AK: They will see that the students understand whatever they are teaching and if you do not, they will repeat it again. They counsel students about their education.
AG: I know you lost about a month with classes shut down during the recent presidential election in March-April. How do you catch up?
AK: In the second semester we have only three months. That is why they give us some topics to research on our own. [Over the summer break, I will] keep studying and doing some research.
AG: You have a change of government, with the new president making education his first priority. What are you students hoping to see change with the new administration?
AK: The change in government has not affected us in any way. We are just hoping to see the President fulfill his promise and we want the government to reduce the fees for us.
AG: Any new thoughts about the major you selected? Do you plan to continue with Banking and Finance?
AK: Yes, I want to continue if I am given the opportunity.
AG: What do you like about living in Freetown? Or dislike? It’s a big change from small town Rotifunk.
AK: I dislike the traffic. The thing I like about it is you can get good quality education here in Freetown.
AG: What message do you have for the people in the US who helped you go to college?
AK: On behalf of my old father and my blind mother, please help me extend my heartfelt thanks and appreciation to all those who in diverse ways made it possible for me to be in the university. I am so grateful to the donors and to CCET-SL for letting my dreams come true and putting a smile on my face and that of my parents.
AG: We are so proud of you and excited to see you doing so well in your first year! Best of luck on your exams.