With a student population of eight thousand (8000), some people are wondering how the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM) is coping with the news of the corona virus measures instituted by the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education.
IPAM is one of three campuses of the University of Sierra Leone (the other two being Fourah Bay College and the College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences); it is headed by Professor Samuel E.B Nonie, a veteran Physicist and formerly Head of the Department of Physics at Fourah Bay College.
Professor Nonie took over IPAM in June 2018, and it would be recalled that IPAM then operated from a number of locations around Freetown, namely at George Street, John Street, Kingtom, REAPS, and a few other places.
One of the initial steps taken by the new administration under Prof Nonie was to collapse all these into the main campus at Tower Hill, for it to operate within one campus, thus saving the University of Sierra Leone huge funds on rent and attendant activities.
This collapsing has brought up a large number of students taking their lectures in one location - so with news of the corona pandemic across the world, many people are currently asking, how is IPAM coping?
Prof Dr Nonie said half of their 8000 student body is doing undergraduate studies, with a thousand pursuing postgraduate, and 3000 offering extra mural courses.
At the moment IPAM is conducting examinations which, sadly, coincided with the issuance of health measures by the Education Ministry and the Ministry of Health, whose emphasis is not having more than a hundred people congregating at any one place or time.
In compliance with this directive and others, Prof Nonie said the Administration has taken proactive steps by hiring St Edwards Hall at Kingtom (which has over 400 seating capacity) plus four other classrooms that sits 100 each; Theological College Hall, and four other classrooms, having the same capacity; REAPS Hall opposite Fire Force with two classrooms; and the different halls and classrooms at the old IPAM Building; including the new Building which has six floors, with each floor having a hall that has a seating capacity of 500 which has been reduced to 300 for now, and classrooms that has 120 sitting capacity but which have also been reduced to 80 presently.
"We hired all those halls because we want students to have convenience when they are writing their exams," said Prof Nonie, "and also, so that students would not be within touching distance of each other. We are doing all this to comply with the directives from the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education."
Additionally, he said, hand washing facilities have been put in place, plus having posters with corona preventive messages, and continual announcement in the respective whatsapp forums for students and staff.
However, the ministry of education has issued a notice for all educational institutions to close down on 31 March - barely a week from now.
"We are going by that directive," enjoined Prof Nonie, "even though we would not have finished our exams by 31 March. By then, we would have completed about 60 percent for the undergraduates. Their remaining examination will come after the restrictions are lifted on school attendance. And, at that time also we will start and finish the post graduate and extra mural exams.
"I would like to inform everyone concerned that these are difficult times. These decisions have been taken not just for IPAM but for everyone in light of corona. Let me assure every student and staff, that no one will be disadvantaged. The Administration will do its best to give quality education for everyone even in the light of these trying times.
"Finally, I would like on behalf of the Administration and the University to admonish all to abide by the recommendations from the MOHS and the Ministry of Technical and Higher Education in conjunction with the Office of the President so that we all return to campus safely at the end of the corona virus."
Emmanuel J Momoh, Registrar of IPAM since 2018, said they are working hard to ensure they maintain standards and go on to higher heights as an institution.
"And we are happy because the public and other institutions have confidence in us," he said. "Also, we are happy to inform you that IPAM won the AWOL award for Tertiary Institution of the year for 2019, something that we are all very proud of."