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Mount Aureol Gets A Voice in Sierra Leone
By Awareness Times
Oct 31, 2005, 11:18
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The establishment of newspapers and radio stations across Sierra Leone is not something of a direct competition but the two aspects of mass communication are virtually at neck to neck.

On Thursday, 17th October 2005, the broadcast media in this country witnessed another significant development. Radio Mount Aureol on Frequency Modulation 103.7 hit the air waves. Students of Fourah Bay College and the people of the silent mountain rural district got a voice of their own. Thanks to the relentless efforts of the Principal and staff of Fourah Bay College and the indefatigable Director of the Institute of Library Information and Communication Studies (INSLICS), Mrs. Bernadette Cole.

Untiring indeed! This quiet, unassuming woman is fast becoming a legend in her life time and that is no exaggeration. It is no flattery either, but the lady seems to be on a mission. A mission to prove that gender is no barrier to achievement and success. That if you have the will and channel well your effort, time and energy to any course, especially one that is in the national interest, you can make it.

The opening ceremony that was held at the Mary Kingsley Hall, FBC on the above date was impressive and even enjoyable. But more important is the fact that the occasion was the culmination of several years of hard thinking and hard work.

Of course there is no way anyone can heap all the credit for this laudable achievement on a single individual and Mrs. Cole is not the type that would want all the praises for what has happened because she is that humble type who believes more in action than in mere words.

Most products of the Mass Communication Department at FBC would testify that the inception and survival of that department owes a world of gratitude to their revered head of department. Mrs. Cole, in concert with the university authorities and assistance from

the Nigerian High Commission and the United States Embassy, a sad reality unfolded at the University of Sierra Leone.

This college, notwithstanding the fact that it was founded in 1827, did not offer a training programme in Journalism and the significance of such a training cannot be over emphasized. It was probably only when the disastrous consequences of the bad journalism that had gripped the nation began to manifest that the need for training became more apparent.

Individuals, groups and institutions came under ruthless attacks and unsubstantiated allegations replaced facts. It is not completely over yet but it is comparatively better. Journalism then was fast heading for the drains.

Mrs. Bernadette Cole and her team, moved by this disturbing situation undertook a rescue operation.

It yielded fruit in the 1993/94 academic year when the Certificate in Journalism studies was conceived at FBC. But that group would not settle for half measure, so in 1995, the programme was upgraded to a Diploma in Mass Communication. This resounding success came amidst the most difficult political situation in this country so far.

The rebel war was raging and those who can afford it preferred a smooth exit.

However, the programme, with the dedication of another committed brother, Daniel Adekera, managed to see the light of day. In the 2002/03 academic year, the degree of Bachelor of Arts (Honours) in Mass Communication programme kicked off. The first crop of that endeavor will be at this year’s convocation ceremony to be held at the Adjai Crowther Amphitheatre in December.

In spite of the iron will of Mrs. Cole and several others, the Department, being among the youngest, is in dire need of equipment to enhance the quality of training. Even when the richness of the programme remains unquestionable, there is room for improvement.

As mentioned earlier, Radio Mount Aureol is part of a grand design to expose students of Mass Communication to the modern requirements of the profession. This is a dream that would never have come true if the leader was not result oriented. As it has turned out, her gender never hindered her from scaling the relevant walls and mountains in search of positive solutions.

Radio Mount Aureol, the voice of Fourah Bay College and its environs has become a reality.

Quite apart from the teaching and learning facility students are going to be exposed to, burning issues affecting the mountain villages now have a channel through which they can be brought to light. In the existing situation where traveling expenses cast a burden on most journalists thus incapacitating them from being on the ground, F.M 103.7 shall adequately fill the gap in the case of the mountain dwellers.

Besides, the radio shall considerably improve the flow of information and communication between the university and its neighbouring communities. Students who normally failed to attend interviews and other appointments with the college due to alleged misinformation or the absence of information may no longer have such excuses. The medium of professionals and budding professionals shall handle the information and communicate them in the appropriate manner to ease their strains.

Radio Mount Aureol which will be doubtlessly well maintained and sustained is a legacy. A legacy from dedicated and selfless individuals and institutions whose dream to improve on the quality of education and access to information for posterity has come true. Among them is the Open Society Initiative for West Africa {OSIWA} for providing a huge chunk of the funds for the building and the departing Ghanaian High Commissioner to this country His Excellency Kabral Blay-Amihere. Amid his tight official schedule, this jovial man lectured at the Mass Communication Department from its inception, without accepting a single Leone as salary. Grateful Sierra Leoneans, especially those who benefited from his indisputable expertise shall for long remember his immense contribution. The government of the Netherlands shall also be commended in no small measure for their part in furnishing the ultra modern complex.

Awareness Times as a medium that believes in giving knowledge to the people firmly recognizes this shining achievement by the university authorities and their worthy Director, Mrs. Bernadette Cole. Her devotion to duty and quest for laudable results are worthy of emulation. We unite with the entire beneficiaries of Radio Mount Aureol, FM 103.7 in recognizing this unique development .

We welcome Radio Mount Aureol.

© Copyright by Awareness Times Newspaper in Freetown, Sierra Leone.

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