By Aisha Tamba
African higher education ministers and key stakeholders met yesterday in Banjul for the 8th Africa Higher Education Centers of Excellence for Development Impact (ACE Impact) regional workshop.
The four-day meeting brings together ministers of higher education and project government representatives from the 11 participating African countries, the leaders of the fifty-three (53) centers of excellence, subject matter experts, key higher education stakeholders, policy think tanks, and partners such as the World Bank, the French Development Agency (AFD) and the Association of African Universities (AAU).
Addressing the meeting held at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Centre in Bijilo, President Barrow expressed gratitude and delight to partners with the World Bank, through ECOWAS, to be at the center of such a potentially impactful initiative.
He noted that nothing is more relevant than working towards building the capacity of African universities.
He said specific to the ACE project, The Gambia is working towards establishing a full-fledged Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology, and Engineering for entrepreneurship. “The purpose for this focus is obvious; we need adequate human capital that is equipped with entrepreneurial mindsets to match our development strides and aspirations. We are eager, and cannot wait, to graduate our first home-grown engineers who are able and ready to move and provide solutions to local and international industries. This is a vision I share with all of my colleagues in West Africa and Djibouti. Together, we are optimistic key beneficiaries of the ACE Impact Project.
The Gambia’s education reform endeavors put due emphasis on hands-on education and training. To push this agenda forward, my government, through the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, is setting up regional skills centers with the required accompanying curriculum for technical education and training.
In the same vein, besides strengthening the existing tertiary institutions, we are committed to expanding opportunities in the Applied Sciences at the new University of Applied Sciences, Engineering, and Technology (USET).
Through this project, we can certainly lay a solid foundation for this new university, focusing primarily on the emerging Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology, and Engineering for Entrepreneurship,” Barrow stated.
Minister for Higher Education, Pierre Gomez encouraged participants to take the workshop and establish the right partnerships and networks to help develop Africa’s higher education institutions to compete in the global market in research and innovation.
“Together as Africans, through such a Project, we are stronger. We can consolidate efforts to develop academic and research outputs that can help address youth employability, food security, and endemic health concerns that have been stifling our respective economies for so long,” he said