How Yunus school defied Covid-19 to get 75% of students pass this year’s exams


By Omar Bah

Most governments around the world including the Gambia temporarily closed educational institutions in an attempt to contain the spread of the Covid-19 pandemic.

These nationwide closures impacted hundreds of millions of students. Several other countries have implemented localized closures impacting millions of additional learners.


The impact of COVID-19 on education worldwide has been devastating. UNESCO has reported “that over 1.5 billion students had been affected due to school closures in 165 countries as of 26 March, which is more than 87 per cent of all registered students.”

Also, over 63 million teachers and large numbers of education support personnel have also been affected by the pandemic. Given these unprecedented developments, the COVID-19 has become an education crisis.

The length of school closures has caused major disruptions in the education of millions of students, she said. Measures need to be put in place to minimize the impact of closures on the provision of education.

But schools like Yunus English school in Busumbala managed to find a way out to get almost 75% of its students graduating from Upper Basic and Senior Secondary schools pass their exams with flying colours.

According to the school’s administration, only 25% of its students failed the exams. The school on Saturday bade farewell to 83 Upper Basic students and 135 Senior Secondary School students who have successfully completed three year academic programs at the school.

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The achievement, according to the school proprietor Yunus Silla, comes with utmost sacrifice from the teachers who managed several sleepless nights to be with the students at school to make sure that they get the needed preparations ahead of the exams.

The school has a well-equipped modern computer lab with internet facility, a standard science lab and a sophisticated and equipped library among others which also played a tremendous part in the students’ performance.

This technology has enabled students to access internet facilities and other vital information to enhance teaching and learning in the classroom.

“The teachers of Yunus English School deserve all the credits; their dedication and hard work was the result of our success this year. It was really a very difficult time but we are proud that their efforts have not gone in vain,” the school proprietor Yunus Silla said at the graduation on Saturday as he awarded several outstanding graduates. 

This, according to the parents and guardians of the graduating students, will build their confidence in the school and its teachers.

Addressing the graduating students, Silla urged the outgoing students to be wary of the temptations associated with early marriage and back-way.

“I am making this emphasis because many young graduands have fallen in the wrong side of these societal cankerworms that have derailed their progress and opportunities. I would also like to tell you that the world is not an easy home, the education you got here is just a starting point for you. You need to go to college and university. I repeat, don’t rush to get married or try the back-way. It could bring you down,” Silla said.

This, he said, would take precedence and in essence to make them contribute immensely to the socio-economic development of the country and the world at large.

He urged the students to always remember the tremendous sacrifices the teachers have done for them at “no cost”.

“Your teachers have gone the extra mile to offer you extra classes after the Covid-19 lockdown just to ensure that you produce good results,” he said.

Silla also hailed the tremendous support the school continues to receive from its board of directors, Alkalo and villagers of Busumbala, the parent-teachers’ association and the regional education office.

“Without their support, the school wouldn’t have come this far of becoming one of the top schools in the country,” he said

The senior school principal, Ansumana Sanno, disclosed that “out of 135 students who sat the West Africa Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), 78 scored 5 credits and above.”

This, he added, has given opportunity to nearly 75% of the students to either go to the college or university to further their studies.

Principal Sanno also reserved special tribute to the teachers for the outstanding resilience, commitment and hard-work demonstrated in the past few months.

“The teachers are behind all the successes registered by the students as depicted by the schools’ results. I want to urge the graduates to always demonstrate kindness and avoid arrogance. They should also avoid being proud and always surrender themselves to good mentors and companions for guidance and counselling,” he said.

Lamin Tabally, Principal of the Upper Basic School said 43 students sat the Gambia Basic School Certificate Examinations (GaBECE) 25 of whom fall within the range of aggregate 6-20, while the rest fall between aggregate 20-43.

He further disclosed that “there was no failure among the students who sat the past GaBECE examination in 2020.”

“It is pleasing that we were able to achieve this incredible performance despite the Covid-19 pandemic affecting schools badly with significant loss of teaching hours. Authorities and teachers at the school have not been relenting especially with the introduction of extra classes beyond normal classes that greatly helped the students in their final examinations,” he said.

He continued: “The provision of these extra hours to students is what has resulted in the successes we are celebrating today. I must admit that these achievements could not have been possible without the active participation of the students, teachers, parents and guardians who have all been driven by one common goal of success.”

Abdou M Kujabi, a cluster monitor for Region 2, who also doubles as the guest speaker of the occasion, acknowledged the good work of the Proprietor of Yunus English School and his continuous dedication in inspiring and nurturing thousands of Gambian youths who passed through his school.

Kujabi urged the young graduates to be wary of the bumpy road ahead of them.

“This is just the beginning of what could be a very long journey. It is only your commitment and perseverance that would take you through all these difficulties,” he said.

The veteran educationist called on the graduates to continue serving as good ambassadors of the school and the region by contributing positively towards the development of the country.

He also urged the students to always exercise patience, discipline, vigilance and kindness in all their future dealings.

Musa Kijera, a member of Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) and Kaddy Samateh, ex-student of the school, all hailed the school authorities and staff for the good job they continue to demonstrate in uplifting the image of the school.

The two also urged the graduates to continue pursuing their educational dreams and avoid all negative temptations that may affect their future opportunities.

The event was characterized by musical entertainment and display of cultural talents by various cultural groups of the school and attended by parents, relatives and love ones across the country.