Freetown, March 14 (SLENA) - The Acting Registrar of the Cooperative Societies in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr. Michael Lavalie and the Principal of the Milton Margai College of Education and Technology (MMCE&T), Dr. Saidu Kanu on Thursday 10th March 2016 signed the Memorandum of Understanding for the college to start a course in Cooperative Management and Rural Development Studies.
The key objectives of introducing the course is firstly to increase the number of staff to enable the Cooperative Department supervise the growing number of Cooperative Societies in the country, secondly to revive overseas training of staff that discontinued after the civil war and to provide for the training center of the Department in Kenema now managed by the Eastern Polytechnic.
The ceremony took place at the hall of MMCE&T Congo Cross Campus in Freetown.
In his statement, the Acting Registrar of the Cooperative Societies in the Ministry of Trade and Industry, Mr. Michael Lavalie revealed that one of the greatest lessons from history is that mankind cannot successfully and objectively live in isolation, adding that the tradition of mutual aid in village and even town or city life is ancient and that working together in an informal kind has always taken place, especially among farmers and fishermen.
He furthered that the modern cooperative movement, however, has usually come into existence just when these mutual obligations of traditional societies were beginning to break down and a new more formal organization was needed to take their places.
Mr. Michael Lavalie noted that such an organization has to be effectively businesslike to hold its own in the new market economy, which has now almost completely superseded the old self-styled economy of the village, but stressed that if it is to survive its purpose, it must also stand firm on certain broad principles of mutual aid and shared progress.
He recalled that modern cooperative started in Europe over a century ago with the Rochdale Society of Equitable Pioneers, a group of 10 weavers and 20 others in Rochdale, England, formed in 1844, stating that due to its success story, there is hardly any country in the world without a cooperative organization.
According to the Acting Registrar of the Cooperative Societies, the value of Cooperative Societies is no longer in dispute, that the benefits to be derived from a flourishing Cooperative Movement have amply proved themselves as they can provide their members with economic advantages with which they would be unable to provide themselves individually as well as its educational value.
He continued that the cooperatives also have the advantages of fair dealing, concern for community and above all practical training in the working of democratic processes, all encouraged by association of people in cooperative societies in addition to its social and economic content, elements necessary for the healthy and balanced development of cooperative institutions.
Mr. Lavalie also informed that in its strive to enhance this, Government has developed and approved a new National Cooperative Development Policy to, among others, promote vocational/technical skills apprenticeship programs tailored to build the competencies among cooperatives, encourage business training in schools and tertiary institutions in order to develop business skills and attitudes among Sierra Leoneans.
He went on to state that as the Department registers new cooperatives, they are constantly in touch with tertiary institutions in the country in order to encourage and convince them to add Cooperative Studies and Rural Development into their respective curricula, stating that the Department has developed a syllabus that is subdivided into modules to enable the primary, secondary and tertiary institutions in the country benefit from it
Mr. Lavalie also commended the head of the National Agricultural Marketing Cooperative Union Limited for voluntarily playing a lead role in this regard.
The Principal of MMCE&T, Dr. Saidu Kanu expressed his appreciation to the Ministry of Trade and Industry and the management of the Cooperative Department, that the choice of the college is not a mistake, and that the administration would take full ownership of the program to ensure that students benefit from it and commended staff of the Congo Cross campus for a work well done.
Dr. Saidu Kanu also underlined that the course is timely to promote Government’s Agenda for Prosperity in the area of building the country’s human resource capacity, an essential ingredient to catapult the economy, stressing that Sierra Leone is lagging behind in science and technology and that the country has not got its priorities right.
The Principal continued that the initiative is laudable, appealed to students to exploit the opportunity to the fullest by getting ready to take up the challenge but warned that recruitment of students to undertake the program would be very rigorous, disclosing that the course would include pedagogy to contribute to national development and would be implemented and accomplished as the college has the competent faculty.
According to Dr. Kanu, the college would give all its support for the success of the program.
The ceremony was attended by Heads of Faculties and Departments, lecturers and administrative staff of the polytechnic and the Cooperative Department as well as students of the MMCE&T Congo Cross campus.
Highpoint of the event was the signing of the Memorandum of Understand while Engineer Umaru Bundu, Dean of the Congo Cross campus, rendered the vote of thanks.
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Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.