Note: The views expressed in this expository article are in no way the collective views of The African Dream. It was done by a student who decided to stay anonymous for obvious reasons.
The College of Medicine and Allied Health Sciences (COMAHS), University of Sierra Leone, was founded in 1988 by the Sierra Leonean Government in collaboration with the Nigerian Government and the World Health Organization (WHO).
It is Sierra Leone’s only viable and potent medical and pharmacy school for prospective students. It is also the country’s main institution for basic and specialist nurse training.
When we say COMAHS is the scientific and medical symbol of the country, it means that the entire institution is playing a crucial and commendable role in establishing a very competent health workforce in a nation incapacitated with enough doctors, nurses, dentists, and pharmacists.
Following the 2005 University Act, COMAHS was incorporated as one of three constituent colleges, alongside Fourah Bay College (FBC) and the Institute of Public Administration and Management (IPAM), into the University of Sierra Leone (USL).
The USL is owned by the Government and its Chancellor is the President of Sierra Leone.
Students of COMAHS take lessons at different hospitals, but the main campus is at Kossoh, Jui.
With all the pieces of vital information and sticky importance rendered to this prestigious institution, you will think that these industrious students who have opted for a career in medicine are having a less stressful education journey. Unfortunately, they are not. In fact, many are deliberately frustrated to quit.
The Ugliness Of Being A Student Of COMAHS
One of the many challenges we face as students is the porous and ineffective Student-Lecturer interaction.
Most of the educators are having a hard time delivering key information to these students. Yes, it is medicine. Yes, these are science-led modules. We don’t affect them to be anything less than a bit complicated.
Nevertheless, it is the duty of every lecturer to deliver best even for the slowest of learners. These same lessons are taught by different professors all over the world and are very easy to grasp in that regard.
The relationship between the student and tutor is strained. Students are jumbled into the pathway of fear.
Another saddened chronicle that has befallen the country’s medical hub is the fact that COMAHS isn’t anywhere near spacious. The medical school at Jui cannot accommodate every student.
Therefore, we are faced with clustering or having to secure other buildings in town for their lessons. The medical school lacks the infrastructure and sophistication to match with other institutions in the subregion.
Pharmaceutical students take classes in a less structured apartment opposite sight savers at Connaught Hospital. A lot of students opt for COMAHS because of the credibility and success stories it has built overtime.
Nevertheless, many are disappointed with the system. The college admits more students for learning, even when it is clear that the framework is not there for them to strive. Learning shouldn’t be stressful.
Thirdly, you can imagine taking an examination with the sure bet that you will score an A, but when the grades are out it is not even close.
That is probably the most common thing at COMAHS. You dare not challenge a given result even when it is clear that there might have been some errors.
If you attempt doing that, you will be excused as being ignorant or a mediocre student. Some lecturers would insert your name in their bad books and you’ll kiss your course goodbye. Imagine one repeating a course over the administration’s inconsistencies in doing justice to grade insertion.
Sometimes, even when they know these concerns by students are pressing, they will refer you to long processes such as the submission of letters and so on. It is very depressing.
There have been cases of suicide reports committed by these students who are only trying to build a legal and profitable careers for themselves.
Furthermore, some elements of the administration are reported to be very hostile towards the students.
They allegedly use their positions to exploit, demoralize, and intimidate students, while also luring the female students to their bed in exchange for doing a job that they are paid for.
It is very tough being a COMAHS student. Do you know the shocking part of it? Well, they are forced to stay silent. A student who composed a song targeting the problems of being a COMAHS student was victimized and frowned upon.
In summation, what has been lacking in most learning institutions in Sierra Leone is the unawareness that every student is by virtue a customer and a client paying to access a service provided. We are not slaves.
We are not subjects nor peasants. As such, our full rights must be enforced. Most of these administrators making things difficult would not attempt such in developed societies like England. They are aware that these filthy actions are prohibited.
Learning shouldn’t be this traumatic. Most students are from middle class and lower-income earning families. Most of us individually raise tuition fees for ourselves. We already have a lot of battles to overcome.
Let basic learning not be part of it. These are prospective doctors and nurses who will someday take care of your sickly son or daughter. Build them for the future!