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May 2022

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MIT Governance Lab Associate Director of Innovation visits DSTI

Carlos Centeno, MIT Governance Lab’s (MIT GOV/LAB) Associate Director of Innovation got a first-hand look at the work being done by several partners in the public sector seeking to implement innovation in the governance structure. These engagements were facilitated by the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation(DSTI).

Centeno’s recently concluded week-long (16th-20th May 2022) visit was centred on strengthening the existing partnership between the MIT Governance Lab and DSTI, whilst examining the implementation models of governance interventions currently ongoing with the National Revenue Authority (NRA), and Office of the Administrator and Registrar General (OARG). The visit also explored the possibility of furthering the partnership between MIT GOV/LAB & the governance innovation community (within the public sector) by deploying a designer from the research lab to work closely with institutions such as DSTI, Ministry of Basic and Senior Secondary Education(MBSSE), the Ministry of Health and Sanitation (MoHS),  and Freetown City Council (FCC).

MIT GOV/LAB, in collaboration with DSTI, had designed a two-week Governance Innovation Bootcamp in 2021 which provided an opportunity for 25 public servants from various government Institutions to learn and apply the MIT Gov/Lab Methodology to develop an innovative approach to solving governance challenges and spark a culture of innovation within governance in Sierra Leone. 

Welcoming him, DSTI’s COO, Michala Mackay, commended MIT for its continued support to Sierra Leone’s economic recovery and in particular, their support to DSTI through the Governance Innovation Project which is currently being implemented to provide accelerated services to approximately 7 plus  million Sierra Leoneans. 

“Accelerated Governance continues to face cultural barriers, bureaucratic delays, financial constraints among others. These are obstacles to achieving a whole of government approach to quality service delivery. The Governance Innovation Project is proof we can defy the odds, regardless”, Mackay explained.

Mackay told the Associate Director that DSTI is currently dialoguing with other strands of government to see how lessons drawn from Governance Innovation Project can be funnelled into other areas of development.

Making his statement, Centeno mentioned that the DSTI has been very cooperative in finding lasting solutions to problems affecting governance. He stressed that this commitment is an early hopeful sign of a prosperous future where technology can increase its responsiveness to citizens’ needs.

“We’re very interested in how DSTI is able to operate in a complex environment where technology can serve as a catalyst for positive change in the relationship between citizens and government.” He added “In that sense, we’re researching DSTI’s work at a deeper level, hoping to understand better how governance innovation works.   

Carlos met with different team leads at DSTI to form a more detailed insight about the work culture, challenges and ongoing projects. His week-long visit ended on a high note with an informal meeting with the Chief Innovation Officer. They spent time discussing innovative approaches across all sectors and how to untangle some of the problems faced. The several engagements were geared towards paving the way for meaningful steps to complement the existing dialogue for developing governance resources in Sierra Leone.


DSTI Organises First National Tech & Innovation Essay Competition For Primary & Secondary Schools

Recognising that young people are an important part of the ongoing national digital transformation drive, the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation organised its first National Tech & Innovation Essay Competition. Created with the aim of getting school-going pupils to address thought-provoking topics which highlight the role and importance of tech. in our everyday lives, the submissions were inspirational.

The essay writing contest itself was set up to complement the government’s free quality education program by encouraging young writers to demonstrate their writing talents. With the express aim of providing a platform to help young people exercise their creativity and critical thinking, the pieces unearthed young writers with a broad range of skills. This similarly reaffirms the Directorate’s commitment to enlisting young people as a sounding board for measuring the impact of DSTI’s digital solutions and human capital interventions.

A total of 203 essay submissions were received from across the Western Area and these went through an initial screening exercise jointly conducted by the Ministry of Basic Education’s delivery team and DSTI personnel to select the best … (x) essays. Upon completion of this, the best essays were forwarded to the judging committee for grading. This committee comprised a seasoned group of academics and educators including Dr. Yakama Manty Jones, Dr. Albert Dupigny, Dr. Mohamed Kamanda and Ms Miriam (insert surname). 

After being judged and graded, essay scores submitted by every judge, for each essay, were then collated to give an individual, total score, for each essay submitted. At the end of this process, the worthy winners were; 

Victoria Mambu came in 1st place with 72%, Salieu Bangura. 

2nd place with 66% and Eric Dura Sesay came in 3rd place with 61% for the secondary school category.

We congratulate the winning pupils on this commendable feat and hope this serves as an inspiration to others who could not take part in the inaugural competition. Speaking on the essence of the competition DSTI’s Communications Lead; Mariama Khadija Rogers-Mansaray emphasised that “Bringing DSTI to the people of Sierra Leone remains a compelling priority. This competition was devised so young children can transmit our message of hope and possibility to their communities. We’ll stop at nothing to build a future we can be proud of.”

When quizzed on the next steps, she confirmed that as part of its public outreach program, there are plans to host an inter-college debate contest later in the year. This will serve to further inform the public about the groundbreaking interventions ongoing at DSTI and how these solutions are already shaping a sustainable future premised on radical inclusion.

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