Collaborative learning came to life at the University of Sierra Leone as students joined staff at a professional development workshop of the Master of Research and Public Policy (MRPP). The meeting, held on March 1-4, was opened in a colourful ceremony by Prof. Ekundayo Thompson, the Vice Chancellor. He was accompanied by a host of top management. Seventeen students and fifteen teaching staff attended the training, which was facilitated by resource persons from the MRPP network in Nigeria, Ghana and Sierra Leone.
In his remarks, Prof. Thompson reiterated his support for the MRPP. He also appreciated the leadership of Mr. Samuel Weekes, who kept the hope of 25 enrolled students alive for a year as they waited for the Ebola virus to clear so that the programme could begin.
With the programme finally commencing in November 2015, it was indeed a time to celebrate resilience and victory.
The workshop focused on content of research IT packages such as SPSS as well as simulations of innovative pedagogy including case study methodology and role play. Teaching staff and students were actively engaged in practical exercises, sharing experiences, learning from each other and reinforcing creativity in the programme. The participants were divided into small groups for role plays and practical exercises. It was immediately apparent that the teaching staff are variously specialized in qualitative and quantitative research methods while some of the students, being professional statisticians, are “very good” in quantitative methods.
A majority of MRPP students at the University of Sierra Leone hold positions in government, private sector and NGOs, highlighting that the MRPP is harnessing some of the best talent on the continent. It was clear that many factors are pushing Sierra Leoneans closer, evidenced by the rich learning environment in which both staff and students interacted warmly. The experience in this workshop clearly demonstrated that when the divide between teaching staff and students is bridged, the learning environment is enriched.