Hon. Sarjoh Aziz-Kamara, Education Deputy Minister led Sierra Leone’s team to this year’s UNESCO-India-Africa Hackathon 2022 held in New Delhi, India.
Sierra Leone students representing various universities excelled by winning three prizes for developing healthcare and agriculture innovative application solutions as part of the 36-hour non-stop Hackathon in Delhi, India held from 22nd -25th November 2022.
As part of his engagements in India, the Deputy Minister met with the External Affairs Minister, Dr. Subarahmanyam Jaishankar, and conveyed the appreciation of the Government of Sierra Leone for the long-standing bilateral relationship and cooperation between India and Sierra Leone and commended the support of the years in diverse fields including education, health, agriculture, ICT, defense and humanitarian assistance.
He noted that the recent visit of the Indian Vice President to Sierra Leone has further consolidated the bilateral relationship with the opening of the India Mission in Sierra Leone. The Deputy Minister highlighted the Government of Sierra Leone’s commitment under the visionary leadership of President Bio focusing on Human Capital Development.
He elaborated on the Government’s prioritization of Education, noting the investment of 22% of budgetary allocation towards free quality school education, support to STEM education for girls, foundational learning, radical inclusion policy, and ensuring access to higher education with new technical universities and focus on technical vocational education and training to develop the middle-level manpower base and promote employment opportunities for young people.
He appealed for further support from the India Government to consolidate the gains made by the Government.
India’s External Affairs Minister applauded the long-standing bilateral relationship with Sierra Leone and appealed for sustained cooperation about trade, ICT cultural exchange, and the promotion of international peace. He praised the strides made by the Government toward education and human capital development.
Furthermore, at a round-table Ministerial meeting with the Indian Minister of Education Dharmendra Pradhan during the Hackathon, Deputy Minister Hon. Sarjoh Aziz-Kamara outlined possible areas for collaboration and support from the Indian Government. In particular, he requested support towards ICT infrastructure for the universities to promote digital learning in Higher education institutions, support to research and technical vocational education and training, and towards the Government program on developing STEM skills and training of science teachers.
He thanked the Government of India for supporting students with international scholarships to study in India.
The Indian Education Minister acknowledged the progress Sierra Leone has made towards Human Capital Development and the Free Quality School Education program, noting that with education a country can achieve sustainable development at a faster pace.
He expressed the commitment of the Indian government to south-south cooperation and encouraged exploring opportunities for the mutual benefit of Sierra Leone and India.