By Tabora Bojang
The Principal of the Gambia College, Abubacarr Jallow has confirmed that the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education owes the College an undisclosed sum of money as arrears for sponsored students, which prevented them from obtaining their attestations and clearances to do classroom teaching.
On Wednesday, the president of the College Students’ Association told The Voice Newspaper that over four thousand students have been affected by these arrears, with two thirds of them about to complete their teacher training courses.
Contacted by The Standard on the issue, Principal Jallow said the College has long been engaging the Ministry to settle tuition arrears of students under their sponsorship but the ministry explained that they are faced with some difficulties causing the delay in the payment of tuition fees.
However, the principal also stated that the majority of the affected students were previously enrolled as private students, meaning the first liability falls on them as individuals.
“When these students were being recruited as students of Gambia College, they were not automatically on scholarships but were admitted as private students; later some of them got lucky and gained scholarship from MoBSE. So if their sponsors don’t pay, eventually the burden comes to them because we recruited them as private students,” Jallow said.
He confirmed that most of them should have got their clearances by now and commenced the formal procedures online had it not been the delay in settling their arrears.
Mr Jallow said the only students who have been cleared are those that were paying and the only way out for those yet to pay is to settle the arrears.
“Obviously, the only way out is for us [the college] to get our money because we have been working on that for a very long time. The College has a team that normally follows up with MoBSE regarding payments and they explained their side regarding some difficulties that they have but payment is a matter of must, whether you pay now or later. It is the mandate that I have and whoever is responsible for payment should know that payments ought to be done,” the principal said.