Whitehead Member Hazel Sive, also a professor of biology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), is passionate about sharing MIT’s educational strategy for producing skilled, innovative problem-solvers with other educators. Sive, who was born in South Africa and is the founder and faculty director of the MIT-Africa initiative, also cares deeply about strengthening MIT’s connections to Africa—a goal that MIT shares. MIT-Africa has the tagline ‘Collaborating for Impact’ and has the goal to promote mutually beneficial engagement in research, education and innovation with African countries. The university made the African continent a global priority region for its international efforts in 2017. Consequently, Sive was thrilled by the opportunities for exchange that arose when Sierra Leone’s new president, Julius Maada Bio, selected MIT alumnus Moinina David Sengeh (SM ’12, PhD ’16) as his chief innovation officer. Sengeh, who heads the country’s Directorate of Science, Technology, and Innovation, used his MIT ties to catalyze connections between leaders at MIT and in Sierra Leone, including working with MIT-Africa to do so.
Bio and Sengeh visited MIT in March 2019 to officially launch the MIT-Sierra Leone Program. The program’s early connections with MIT include Njala University membership in the MIT Abdul Latif Jameel World Education Lab, MIT student internships and faculty visits to Sierra Leone, and an ongoing discourse on higher education strategy. Njala University also participated in the summer 2019 launch of the MIT-Africa Short Course.