“Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.” – Nelson Mandela.
The education system of The Gambia is unquestionably dying and virtually making zero progress. This comes as a result of less quality and development plans invested in it. Education, without skepticism, is a changing format in the lives of people and the way forward for any nation. But this can only become a reality, if certain factors are in place; some of which include: well trained teachers, better learning facilities and affordability.
Firstly, for any education system or environment to shift towards its magnanimous efficiency and effectiveness, there must be well baked teachers. They are the lifeblood and the inherent custodians of knowledge. With such a fact, the well-being of teachers must be catered in every responsive national agenda both in vision and practice. The teaching fraternity should be punctuated with good salaries, eye-catching accommodations and heart-soothing allowances for tomorrow’s gallant service providers and their beneficiaries. These avenues give the teacher a motivation to do his work ambitiously and comfortably. But you can’t expect a teacher with a low-income salary to give his best when his life is entangled in spectrums of worries rooting from his family’s sufferings as to food, shelter or clothing. It is just impossible and imaginable! They must be treated with great concerns of dignity, respect and preference in order for them to bestow our sons and daughters with firsthand information to make them knowledgeable.
Also, a great setback in The Gambia’s education system is the disheartening conditions of our learning facilities. This ranges from classrooms, boards, libraries, books and the curriculum. Everything is archaic and not up to standards of modern day education. Students are only eating and digesting what they are taught about the same thing which has been ongoing for the past 20 to 30 years without much distinction. Our libraries are either empty or devoid of up-to-date materials. Moreover, our environment is not conducive due to its lack of sanitation. All these pitfalls have gripped the throat of promotion of our educational system. For that regard, there has to be vigorous reforms and gargantuan improvements in our education system for there to be positive outcomes.
Lastly, the cost of admission and tuition fee are astronomically in the increase. This has put a great risk to an average Gambian having access to education. In fact, it was among the findings of Labour Force Survey in 2012 that affordability is key to many Gambians not going to school or becoming dropouts; making their dreams of going to school to extinguish. The only way out in putting aside such a roadblock is by ensuring that there is affordable education for all. This means that every average Gambian with the interest of learning must be granted an undiluted chance to obtain knowledge and fulfill his/her educational career.
Succinctly, it is of great interest that the government considers education in any way possible. And the only way possible is by ensuring that our teachers are given first-class treatments by uplifting their current disheartening status; provide better educational facilities which will breed a good environment for learning; and lastly, there should be affordability as to the cost of education for everyone. With such plans being effected, our education system will revamp and will lead to more success stories in and out of the nation.
Muhamed Lamin Ceesay
University of The Gambia