The Republic of Sierra Leone Armed Forces (RSLAF) has established a Technical and Education College in Freetown to help reduce illiteracy rate in the country.
The institution's Director of Studies, Maj. Richard Saidu Bockarie, made the disclosure during an interview with Concord Times at his Wilberforce office in Freetown.
He said the institution was formerly the Army Education Service since 1902 with the responsibility to train illiterate recruits who were drafted by the British Army to fight in the First and Second World War to be literate in numeracy and to communicate well.
According to him, the aim then also was for military personnel to learn skills and that those who were unable to meet university requirements were given remedial classes to sit to their Basic Education Certificate Examinations and West Africa Senior Secondary Examinations.
He said the decision to transform the institution to a technical and vocational status was to ensure that officers benefit from different skills.
"The military of course has a lot of skills to offer to our personnel but what we lack is the certificate that will authenticate these skills," he said.
Maj. Bockarie stated that, with support from the National Council for Technical, Vocational and Academic Awards (NCTVA) and the Tertiary Education Commission (TEC), the institution now empowers their personnel, including those that have reached retirement age, to be self-reliant and get a career after their retirement.
He added that AFTEC has also aided the Armed Forces to smoothly carry out their functions in technical areas within their various areas of operation.
Notwithstanding their mandate, the Director of Studies said they have decided to also cater for the general public, especially the youth, in a bid to minimise the illiteracy rate in the country.
"This is why we have deemed it fit to transform the institution into a college. We will be offering programmes ranging from Computer Sciences, School of Foreign Languages, Business Management, Engineering and Technology and School of Gender Intelligence Security and Safety Studies," he disclosed.
He highlighted the limited number of classrooms to conduct lectures, teaching materials and relevant reading materials for students as some of their challenges.
Major Bockarie pleaded with donor partners to support them in constructing a building that would be conducive for learning and urged experts in different fields to come on board and empower Sierra Leoneans.