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City of Banjul
Sunday, October 1, 2023

Gambia Basic Education Certificate Examination


Last week, grade 9 students around the country began sitting to the Gambia Basic Education Certificate Examination (GABECE). This exam is one that determines where students go to high school and what kind of subject areas they can pursue. For instance, it determines whether a student studies science as a field or commerce or arts.

It goes without saying therefore that this is a very important examination as it basically opens the door to the future academic path of students. Government and parents of students pay particular attention to this examination and the results thereof. Teachers and students prepare as much as they can towards this examination.

In recent years however, the results of students from this examination have not been very good and many of them come out with substandard grades making it very difficult for them to get admission in certain schools. Because the number of candidates is always high and senior secondary schools have limited spaces, there is a stiff competition to get a place in one of them.

Some schools have a lower cut off mark while others – who are in search of students – tend to be a little bit more flexible. The cut off mark of most schools is determined by the overall performance of the students. When the GABECE results are released, schools study the number of students who opted for them and decide their cut off mark accordingly.

There are always a huge number of students whose aggregate cannot secure them a place in any of the well-established and recognized schools. The parents and/or guardians of these students suffer a lot and struggle really hard to get their children a school. It is truly a hectic time for parents most of the time.

As education is the key to developing any country, it is necessary to look closely at the system and what it is doing to the young generation. Who is to blame for the perennial poor performance of students at Grades 9 and 12? Is it the ministry or the teachers or the parents? Or is it the students themselves?

One may say that all of the above mentioned have a share of the blame for the poor performance of the students. The ministry is supposed to come up with a very good curriculum which is relevant to our developmental aspirations while at the same time taking our sociocultural values into consideration. If this is done, then there must be enough books on this, and qualified teachers to teach the children. Has this been done adequately?

Teachers must be well equipped to deliver to expectation. If they have the right training and have the incentives and motivation, they should do everything to help the children pass their examinations. Teachers must not see teaching only as a way of getting good wages. They must be passionate about their job. That is why not everyone can be a teacher.

Parents nowadays virtually have no time to pay attention to the studies of their children. In many homes, both mother and father are working class who leave home as early as seven o’clock and return late in the evening. That leaves no time for the supervision of the studies of the children. Parents have a vital role to play in telling their children to read their books at home.

Finally, it is the role of the students themselves. It is said that one can force the horse to the river but one cannot force it to drink. If all the above play their parts but the students refuse to do theirs, results cannot be good.

All these must work hand in glove to ensure that the children come out with good results at the end of a nine-year cycle of education. Otherwise, it would have been a huge waste of time and energy. We must reexamine ourselves in this area to make sure that we right the wrongs so as to begin fixing our country.

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