In a statement read on her behalf by Unicef communication specialist, Ms Sally Sadie Singhateh at a news conference held at the UN House in Cape Bakau on the Day of African Child, Ms Singhateh said: “Through collaborative efforts of the government, civil society organisations, the international community and other partners, Tthe Gambia has come far; especially in in term of girls’ education. Gender parity was reached in 2007 and has been maintained since. Gross enrolment rates in primary school stood at 92.5% in 2013, according to EMIS, and a significant portion of the national budget has been consistently allocated to the education sector over the past years to make sure that it is continually strengthened, for which the government should be highly commended on.
“Unicef urges government and its partners to continue the good work. As we approached 2015, special attention should be placed on reaching the children who are currently unreached and further reduce the equity gap in access to education for children in the Gambia. Throughout this year, all over the world, Unicef and partners are commemorating the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, and promoting inclusive education is a priority area. In The Gambia, Unicef is also collaborating with key stakeholders to conduct series of activities, some that will also focus on promoting education for all”.
She added: “In the education sector, the first national disability study was conducted to ensure access to education for the poor and hard-to-each students with disabilities while strengthening national capacities to better address the existing service delivery gaps in health, education and protection.
“The theme of the 2014 Day of an African Child is in line with Unicef’s major areas of focus for advocacy this year, out-of-school children. Ensuring that out-of-school children are in school requires more than building more classrooms and filling up schools with more teachers. Special efforts are needed to reduce or eliminate the hidden costs imposed on families for sending their children to school (books, stationary.) Schools need to ensure that they are friendly to children with disabilities (teachers trained to work with children with disability as well as provision of ramps.
The representative of Education for All Campaign Network, Gambia, Sira Comma-Holland said the theme of this year’s commemoration of could not be more fitting granted quality education is a prerequisite meaningful development.
“Education is a right that needs to be enjoyed by all children regardless of sex, ethnicity or disability. The network with its partners including Unicef, Action Aid and Fawegam are working tirelessly in its advocacy for inclusive education,” she said.
The press conference convened by Young People in the Media in partnership with Unicef, Child Fund, EFANET, Fawegam, ministry of education and Child Protection Alliance.
By Sainey Marenah & Joey Goggins]]>