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WGC 2023: Sierra Leone educationist wins ‘Best Minister’ award

Sengeh was chosen as the winner from a group of ten nominated ministers, based on his exceptional efforts to provide education for the children of Sierra Leone.
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David Moinina Sengeh, the minister of education, Basic and Senior Secondary Education for the Republic of Sierra Leone, has been named the ‘Best Minister’ in the world at the World Government Summit 2023 in Dubai.

The award, given in partnership with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), recognises government ministers who demonstrate excellence in their domain, promote innovation, and implement effective policies in the public sector to address the needs of their citizens.

Sengeh was chosen as the winner from a group of ten nominated ministers, based on his exceptional efforts to provide education for the children of Sierra Leone.

The award was presented to Sengeh by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of the United Arab Emirates and Ruler of Dubai.

In a video message, Sengeh expressed pride in his country and his resolve to provide quality education to the children of Sierra Leone, to create a better future for them.

What is the award?

The award recognises the exceptional efforts of government ministers and demonstrates their excellence in a public sector, their efforts to implement, promote innovation in their domain. It registers their importance to the needs of their citizens.

This year, 10 ministers were nominated following a due diligence conducted by PwC. This also included the public opinion of social media. A jury of international experts and key figure representatives of international organisations and private sectors narrowed the winner down to Sengeh.

“I am really proud of where I come from. However Sierra Leone is infamous for a decade long civil war in the 1990s. I resolved that I would do everything in my capacity that my children will not go through the same experiences that we had. I dream of a day when young people will find enough of a critical mass of interested learners to be able to stop and solve that problem. An investment in education is the best gift we can give to our children,” Sengeh said in a video recording shown during the award ceremony.

Sengeh added, “In Sierra Leone we will stop at nothing until every boy and girl feel safe to go to school.”

Meet Sengeh

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David Moinina Sengeh is the Minister of Basic and Senior Secondary Education and Chief Innovation Officer for the Directorate of Science, Technology and Innovation in Sierra Leone. He is a TED Senior Fellow. Sengeh is an alumni of prestigious universities including Harvard University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology among others.

Sengeh was offered a scholarship to study in Norway, and joined the UWC Red Cross Nordic College in 2004. His uncle was a surgeon.

He studied biomedical engineering at Harvard University. He researched aerosolised vaccines for tuberculosis and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in 2010.

During his time at Harvard University, he was cofounder of Lebone Solutions, a start-up that developed inexpensive batteries from microbial fuel cells.

He was listed in the 2013 Wired magazine Smart List. Sengeh joined Massachusetts Institute of Technology for his postgraduate studies, working under the supervision of Hugh Herr.

He was inspired to work on prosthetics because he grew up surrounded by victims of civil war. He used MRI to map amputee’s limbs, then assessed where artificial materials could create pressure points, and used 3D printing to generate new sockets.

His prototypes were tested by veterans and amputees from the Boston Marathon bombing.He was named as a TED fellow in 2014, delivering a talk entitled The sore problem of prosthetic limbs. He was selected as one of Forbes 30 Under 30 in 2014.He won the 2014 Lemelson–MIT Prize for his innovations in healthcare. He was selected as one of Face2Face Africa’s Young Africans Committed to Excellence.He completed his PhD at Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2016.

After completing his PhD, Sengeh toured makerspaces in America talking about his work on prosthetics.
During his PhD research, Sengeh founded the NGO Global Minimum Inc, a program that supports the Innovate Salone entrepreneurship program in Sierra Leone, Kenya and Cape Town.

He wanted to change ‘aid to Africa’ to ‘Made in Africa’.The “A De Mek Am” Innovate Salone program supports teams from secondary schools to develop solutions to local problems.It was created in collaboration with the MIT Media Lab and MIT Public Service Center and modelled on the MIT innovation competitions. Sengeh supported the winning student projects to travel to the United States, where they spoke at Maker Faire.

He supported Kelvin Doe, a thirteen year old inventor who had never left a ten-mile radius of his house in Sierra Leone, to join the MIT Visiting Practitioner’s Program.Sengeh became Kelvin Doe’s mentor. He returned to the TED stage in 2015, speaking to Kate Krontiris about innovation and inspiration.He has spoken at the NextEinstein Forum.

In May 2018 Sengeh joined the Office of the President of Sierra Leone, working there as chief innovation officer. In 2019 he was named Minister of Education of Sierra Leone. He ensured that each child in the Puiehun district had education and access to laptop.

Hailed a trailblazer, Sengeh also happens to be a musician.

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