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Small Man Big Ideas

May 21, 2008, 6:13 AM | Article By: By Augustine kanji

Mr. Mohmaed Fornah, principal of IPAM on Kombo Sillah High Way looks into the future of the institute with passion and hopes of an excellent institution. The young passionate principal has a wealth of experience as he had bagged his BSc Economics at the Fourah Bay College in Freetown and had enriched himself by working assiduously to pass on his education to others by serving in high ranking senior secondary schools and institutions in The Gambia, including GTTI. He came to the Institute of Professional Administrative Management (IPAM) and saw from the outside that he could further push the institute ahead to meet up his dream for a brighter Gambia in line with President Jammeh's Vision 2020. With cooperation from all and sundry, this elegant lecturer and leader would make IPAM and its students the best in the employment world with a focus on increasing its international status both in education and employment. Augustine Kanjia talks with Mohamed Fornah and discovers how IPAM has improved many in a short time and how he is encouraging the educated to come and enhance their earning capacity.

EIG: Could you please tell me about your humble beginnings?

Med Fornah: Well, I am a Sierra Leonean but I have been in The Gambia for over 9 years now. I have since been in the educational sector and taught and lectured in a handful of schools and institutions. These are St. Peter's High School, GTTI, International Business College, Insight Training Centre and of course IPAM. I graduated from the Fourah Bay College and I hold a BSc in Economics. I am an ACCA part qualified I completed the first stage of ACCA. I am married to a very beautiful lady and have one daughter with me here in The Gambia. Most importantly my daughter was born in The Gambia.

EIG: What do you depend on as your principal job seems so smooth?

Med Fornah:I depend on God. By nature I am a disciplinarian though not an idealist. I am a just disciplinarian, which has helped my staff and students to understand thus no problem but hard work.

EIG: When did you head IPAM?

Med Fornah: I actually came to IPAM in 2006 as a lecturer. I was encouraged by the then acting principal, Mr. Sulay Davies to come over. It took me some time to consider the option to leave where I was to come but I finally did. Within few months of hard work, I was asked to serve as one of the members in a five-man-management team, formed to man the affairs of the school when the then acting principal; decided to resign. Following a series of development, I was eventually asked by the Board of IPAM to effectively take over as principal and run the institute some time late 2007, and hence forth I have been functioning as such.

EIG: Is it an easy or challenging job?

Med Fornah: It is actually a challenging job but very interesting and sometimes stressful. Well, as principal of IPAM I have come to realize that you carry the hopes, dreams and expectations of so many people with diverse background in society. That is the extent to which the job is challenging.

EIG: Which regime in your view is better, yours or the previous?

Med Fornah: To a large extent I believe but I want to leave that judgment to the people whose lives I have impacted upon since I became principal.

EIG: Are there negative aspects of the job at IPAM?

Med Fornah: Naturally! But on the whole the positive aspect of the job far outweighs the negative aspect.

EIG: Let us move a bit to intake, how do you get students coming to IPAM?

Med Fornah: We engage the services of professional media houses especially the electronic media by advertising. However, we also believe that if you do your job to the expectation of customers you get the right rewards in this regard there are many cases where new students are brought to us by people who have passed through us. The fact is that we don't engage in massive or aggressive advertising just for the sake of it rather we try to do our hob right by making sure that people who for a variety of reasons decide to come to us receive the services that they should get. We know that lecturing effectively is another marketing strategy this is why my able team of lecturers with vast experience, always go the extra mile in ensuring that student desires and aspirations are fully met when at IPAM.

EIG: Do your students register success in their external exams?

Med Fornah: We are growing from strength to strength in terms of academic out put and performance that can be shown from recent exams. IPAM is synonymous to success and it's open to everybody. I want to seize this opportunity to appeal to the public to recognize the immense opportunity that IPAM has in store in terms of professional education thus to take full advantage of it.

EIG: What do you offer to students?

Med Fornah: We offer a range of programmes from Management to Accountancy as well as secretariat and even 'A' level Law, as well as Banking and Finance. We are also considering the possibility of including in our package those that are preparing for the private WASSCE Exams. Admission starts this June, people can always come at our premises located at No. 69 Kombo Sillah Drive, Church Hill's Town and pick up a brochure as well as ask for more information to any time from Monday to Saturday between of 9am to 7pm. This is for the elderly, the young and those willing to learn, there is no limit in education.

EIG: Do your students do well at their work places after their studies at IPAM?

Med Fornah:  Well, of course! Since I became principal I have never received complaints or concerns of mediocre performance of people we have trained from their employers. Our students get employment immediately after their training both in the public and private sectors. Example, George P. Gomez was trained with us and he is now working with Standard Chartered Bank including a host of others in diverse positions in and out of the country. There are so many classic cases. We also have some security personnel, including the military, police and immigration doing different courses at IPAM. We have people from other departments from the civil service and more.

EIG: How do you think IPAM would be in 5 years from now?

Med Fornah: Now, giving the very conducive environment that exists, that is politically, socially and economically in The Gambia, I think IPAM will be the centre of excellence and a place everyone longing for progress in life would be. There is no doubt! Students should keep coming then we shall see what happens in the next two years before the five years in question.

EIG: How can you rate IPAM to other institutions in the country?

Med Fornah: I don't believe in blowing my own horn but it is evident that IPAM is a class 'A' rated institution in The Gambia with lots of potential and benefit on offer for the people of The Gambia, there is no doubt that IPAM is the centre of excellence, a learning place of course, most importantly, the place to be if you are looking for quality and professional education.

EIG: Could please advice non students?

Med Fornah: My advice to people who are not engaged with us at the moment is for them to take the opportunity and make it a priority to come over to IPAM. IPAM has what it takes to transform and differentiate them so that they can become useful and employable in the society. A lot of people have seen their lives changed after engaging with IPAM so you are no exception. We are here for everybody; we can make it work for you, just like we've done for others.

EIG: Any advice to your ongoing students?

Med Fornah: As usual I advise them to be focused, responsible and ignore distractions, there is always a price to be paid if one becomes negligent. So it is clear that they should take charge of their destiny, by working very, very hard and to always be honest in dealing with others. Success does not come cheap! It takes a lot of hard work, resources and sometimes pain to achieve success, I always let them know that.

EIG: Do you have hobbies?

Med Fornah: In my quiet moments I like watching or listening to international news as I am very much interested in things happening around the globe. I also love football and I am a passionate supporter of ARSENAL FC in UK. I read all the time, almost everything about life.

EIG: Is there any important thing that you think I would have asked that I did not ask?

Med Fornah:Yes! I want to say that the competition is very strong as there are so many schools in the market but of course there's always a difference between the men and the boys.

EIG: Any final words?

Med Fornah:On behalf of the proprietor, the Board, management and staff of Institute for Professional Administrative Management, I want to take this opportunity to that his Excellency Dr. Alhajie Yayah AJJ Jammeh, president of the Republic of The Gambia for providing us with the enabling and a very excellent environment. We are thankful and pledge to support and contribute to his very noble vision for this nation. I thank all our potential students especially the school leavers and adults who want to take the private WASSCE, our admirers and friends of IPAM. Come and join us and be happy in life. IPAM is a place for you to be.

EIG: I thank you for all you said in this interview.

Med Fornah:You are welcome; I look forward to seeing you again.