A professor at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has announced the launch of a $1.3 million project to help bring better education, job creation, entrepreneurship and, ultimately, sustained economic growth to The Gambia.
Momodou Sallah, Professor of teaching and learning and the Director of the Centre for Academic Innovation at DMU, has formed a partnership with the Gambian Government, which is promoting the importance of entrepreneurship, the enhancement of scientific research and technology, and the developing of skills among Gambian youth.
DMU will introduce entrepreneurship and employability programmes as well as an ‘innovation hub’ and a placement and internship unit.
DMU will also act as a consultancy service for the provision of lectures and making sure courses meet the highest standards.
The work will be with the Emerging Centre of Excellence on Science, Engineering and Technology for Entrepreneurship (ECESETE) under the auspices of The Gambia’s Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Technology.
Youth unemployment is a major concern for The Gambia, and it has contributed to the large-scale migration of Gambians to other African nations and continents to find work.
DMU has extensive experience and an excellent reputation for working with industry and cultivating entrepreneurs.
So, the university will bring those skills to ECESETE via an Incubation and Innovation Hub, to commercialise products which can then be developed and taken to market.
DMU will aim to make young people more employable in The Gambia by training them as the entrepreneurs of the future.
Professor Sallah said the development was both exciting and poignant time for him as he was born and raised in The Gambia and is aware of the help his home nation needs to boost the prospects of young people.
He said: “I grew up in The Gambia and I had to experience the difficulties involved in education and making progress.
“I am a professor now and to be able to use my position and my privilege and my knowledge to build something better in The Gambia is brilliant. That is what motivates me.
“I see myself as a scholar-activist. I cannot sit in an ivory tower and pontificate about the situations I have come from. I need to do something about it
“We will see 60 engineers come through these courses each year and each of them will be encouraged to use science, engineering, and technology for social good and help develop the economy. Imagine the impact that that would have, not just for The Gambia but for the rest of Africa.”
The role of DMU will be to act as a consultancy service for the provision of lectures, guidance on quality assurance, entrepreneurship, and employability programs at ECESETE. There will also be a ‘disruptive lab’ that will pick apart current business methods and rebuild them into something better.
“If we are going to change things, we need to disrupt the methods we are using, break them down completely and see what we can do better”, Professor Sallah explained. “It can be a very uncomfortable process, but it changes the mindset of everybody and helps us focus on how to make improvements.
“Education has to be responsive to the environment it is in if we are to progress. DMU has laid out in its strategic plan for the next few years that we are to be an empowering university. This is exactly what DMU is doing here in The Gambia with this partnership. We are empowering people to make a difference in their country.”