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Tuesday, April 16, 2024

‘Higher education must be considered an investment for sustainable development’

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By Olimatou Coker

Professor Pierre Gomez, Minister of Higher Education Research Science and Technology, has said higher education must be seen and considered as an investment for sustainable development.

Minister Gomez made these remarks recently at a MoHERST day-long round table meeting with relevant stakeholders at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center .

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The tertiary and higher education sector in The Gambia is currently going through some transformation which requires human and institutional capacity development. At the policy level, the Ministry has finalized a Strategic Plan (2021 – 2025) that focuses on access and equity, quality and relevance, scientific research and technological development, and sector management as programmatic areas of intervention.

“Along the sides of this policy document and in line with the decentralization drive, the TVET policy has been developed to provide opportunities for skills acquisition and training for all walks of life in all administrative regions of the country. In enhancing the attainment of these policies, a higher education financing strategy has been developed and earmarked for legislation that will bring about innovative financing of higher education, for which donor support will also be needed,” he said.

He said significant investment in higher education wasn’t done. “And that’s why we are where we are. That in 2023 we are yet to produce one homegrown engineer, after 57 years of independence? You cannot produce one home grown in engineers.”

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He said that the good news is that higher education should be seen as an investment. “It is only when that is done that we will be able to do our homework that the country will start developing.

“The document talks about the government for the first time taking over the salaries of all the tertiary higher education institutions that has never happened in this country, but this is what this document is talking about. And tertiary and higher education institutions will be in charge of allowances. The higher education revolution must be seen as a reality because we are dealing with public institutions, not private institutions.”

Hon. Seedy Keita, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs (MoFEA), said: “We are here today to discuss a very important topic which is on the theme of financing higher education. And as we all know, higher education is one of the key pillars to develop the human capital of the country.”

Hon Keita said the way they go about this will represent and reflect the commitment of the government to this very important capital formation process. This is why the government has left no stone unturned as it started by providing a generous policy package to enable Gambians to be able to do their higher education in the country.

“We are pleased that this has witnessed significant strife and achievement. Now, we have seen a number of Gambians graduating in diverse fields from higher education from general education teacher training to degree programs, School of Law from the University of the Gambia, even to the medical school. And that was not a mean feat, which was realized through the generous support of the government and the donor partners.”

He added that their revolution continues to be placed at the doorstep of these valuable partners who have come a long way in supporting the government and endeavor but given the centrality of financing higher education. “That is why the theme of this meeting today cannot be more apt on how we can work together. Brainstorm, to finance higher education. If we will build on our human capital formation process.”

He pointed out that the paper has been widely circulated and debated, and was a subject of a cabinet discussion. “And they still believe that we have to broaden the engagement by calling on the relevant stakeholders. And the society to NGO engage in the discourse on the way forward for financing higher education.

“We will not take my time, but we expect that this discussion will generate fresh ideas and concrete actionable plans to ensure that the fundamentals are the pillars on which financing higher education will be centered will serve the Gambian people for posterity.”

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