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Gambia College losing its glory

Gambia College losing its glory

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“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world,” Nelson Mandela said. How right he was! Any country in the world that aspires to ensure rapid development must invest in QUALITY education for effective social and intellectual transformations.

Provision of quality education is the bedrock for sustainable development for any nation. No country in the world can ever develop in the absence of quality education and the verity of this assertion could be adduced to many countries whose developments were fostered by quality and relevant education for their citizens.

In the Gambia, the Gambia College is supposed to be the custodian of quality education, since this is the institution that trains teachers who are in turn deployed to various schools across the country to teach students. There cannot be quality education in the absence of good teachers and this makes the Gambia College one of the most important tertiary institutions in the country.

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However, the recent trend in this college is a cause for concern. The kind of students that are now admitted to the Gambia College and later deployed to teach our children in various primary schools across the country is appalling. Some of these young trained teachers cannot write simple correct sentences, yet they are sent to our schools to teach our children.

These children are expected to be the future leaders of this great country. As such, they need to be equipped with the relevant education that is required to steer the affairs of the country in a way that is efficient and effective when the times comes for them to take the lead. If we failed to prepare these children for the future tasks ahead of them, then we are certainly ruining the future of this country, thus leaving it under the mercy of poorly-educated, mediocre individuals.

Preparing our future leaders starts with instilling in them right education that would train their minds to become good leaders. This education starts at elementary level where the foundation is built. And the similitude of the importance of elementary education is like the foundation of a building. The quality of any edifice depends on its foundation. When the foundation is good, the rest of the building can be guaranteed to be good. Similarly, when children are equipped with the right education at elementary level, the rest of their academic journey can be assured of being good.

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I am not oblivious of the fact that the Gambia College is responsible for training teachers. But the institution needs to establish certain standards. Not every Tom, Dick and Harry should be enrolled to the School of Education. In the Gambia, the mentality that most Gambians have is that students who fail to perform in their external examinations can only be enrolled at the Gambia College to go and become teachers, not considering the fact that this institution is responsible for the preservation of quality education in the Gambia, and as a result, care must be taken in its enrollment process.

The Basse Annex of the Gambia College, whether its establishment was inspired by political expedience or a deliberate attempt to add to one’s legacy, the truth is that this institution is not doing very much. If anything, it is playing a major role in jeopardizing the future of our education, putting into account the kind of students that are enrolled there. Most of the students there, mainly young girls, were not teachable during their times in school; how then can they teach anything substantial to our children?

We have to accept the fact that it is practically impossible to attain the dream of the Gambia we want without reforming our education sector. We equally have to recognize the importance of teaching in the development process of a nation. Good teachers will not only instill relevant knowledge in our future leaders, but will also train them to become better thinkers and leaders.

Mediocrity should not under any circumstances be entertained in our education sector. Admission into the Gambia College, in my judgment, is supposed to be the most competitive race a prospective applicant would ever undergo in the Gambia. This institution should not compromise standard, because it produces one of the most important groups of people that are not only required but demanded in the process of nation building – teachers.

There ought to be very stringent criteria that one has to fulfill before being offered an admission into this college. Aside from the designated cut of mark and interview as part of the admission process, there should also be an entrance examination for all prospective candidates aiming for admission into the college. This would put all applicants to the test of competence so that any students who is admitted would have fulfilled all admission requirements.

Back-door entrance to the Gambia College, particularly in the School of Education, needs to be vehemently discouraged. It doesn’t matter if it is happening in other tertiary institutions. As far as I am concerned, the Gambia College is the most important tertiary institution in the Gambia, thus standard must not be compromised.

My deliberate repetition of standard must not be compromised is to inform the authorities that this great institution had lost its glory in my judgment, and every necessary step must be taken to restore it. It is very disappointing to see products of Gambia College who are unable to even prepare lesson plans, let alone teach something substantial.

This blame is on the management of the Gambia College. It needs to look beyond the tuition of enrolled students and prioritize the kind of students it will send to schools to teach our children. No amount of training provided at this college can prepare some of these boys and girls to effectively and efficiently teach.  Teaching is not simply their calling.

Some of them merely go to the college not because they love teaching, but because the Gambia College is the easiest tertiary institution to get admission into. This trajectory needs to change. It’s about time the management instituted a very competitive admission requirements for effective service delivery on the part of young trained teachers.

Also, the management of this college should not allow it to be a stepping stone for individuals with no passion for the profession of teaching. There should be rigorous admission process entailing standard entrance examinations and interviews in a bid to distinguishing those who possess the requisite qualifications and are passionate to learn and teach from those who only go there as an only option.

Further, the management of the Gambia College owes it to our children to send them those teachers who would immensely contribute to the training and development of their minds; teachers who would be able to train them to become better leaders in the future so that they can take control of their collective destiny when the time comes. If the management failed to do that, then the future of education in the Gambia shall be destroyed beyond repair, and a major player in that menace shall be the Gambia College.

Ismaila Saidybah is an award-winning writer and novelist, currently pursuing a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English Language. He’s also the founder of Writers Space Africa – Gambia Chapter.

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