By Omar Bah
The Minister of Higher Education, Prof. Pierre Gomez has expressed hope that the 400 IT graduates from the Indian Institute of Hardware Technology will significantly reduce the technology deficiency in the country.
The graduates completed training on introduction to information technology, diploma in cyber administration, technical support, network security, digital marketing, information technology and advanced diploma in graphic designs. Out of the 400 students, 109 were sponsored by the European Union funded Youth Empowerment Project, YEP.
Minister Gomez, who was among an impressive array of high-profile guests including senior government functionaries, opposition leaders and members of the education community at the graduation event, urged the graduates to be ambassadors to others to embrace TVET and not see skills development as the last choice.
“Go forth, proud of your achievements and be comforted that you will soon earn enough even to employ someone paid as much as a minister,” Minister Gomez told the graduates.
He said it is of critical importance that more young people be interested in pursuing knowledge relevant to national development.
“National development cannot be attained in a vacuum,” he said.
Minister Gomez assured the IIHT School of government’s commitment to support its continued existence and development.
“You have made a desirable change in the lives of these young people and given them hope to succeed as individuals and for the development of society,” he said.
Professor Gomez said his ministry is committed to promoting TVET because it has all the potential to change the country’s development strides.
“My goal is to concentrate on planning, executing, and learning from reforms and programmes intended to solve the most fundamental difficulties of skills development. The Institute will surely stand out as one leading TVET institution that can help make that reform a reality, and I am committed to providing any support possible to see many youths given a chance at a more productive life,” he added.
Former chief executive officer of IIHT and now Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Ousman Bah, said the country’s success depends mainly on its young people. He said the belief that young Gambians can only succeed in the West has hindered the country’s much needed progress and rendered its youth lazy. Minister Bah said he is committed to transforming the country’s financial transaction process into e-commerce.
The IIHT board member, Ebou Jobe said the graduation is a great achievement for the school and the country. He expressed gratitude to Minister Bah for deciding to invest his resources in science and technology. “Education is the only instrument that can transform a nation or society. This is why it is paramount for our countries and governments to invest in their human resources,” he said.
The IIHT center manager, Elman Kah said the institution provides rigorous IT training semesters in January, April and September respectively. He said 110 out of the 400 graduates obtained Distinction, 310 passed with Merit while 80 passed with Credit.
Mr Kah said among the students sponsored by YEP 109 graduated out of which 53 students are currently in full time employment while 24 are engaged in self-employment.
The YEP – Gambia representative said job creation for young people is at the center of YEP’s mandate and that skills training is an essential component.
“Our partnership with IIHT was just not founded on trust and our understanding of the professionalism that they offer in their training but also founded on a solid excellent result when it comes to providing job opportunities for young Gambians,” he said. He said 275 young people have graduated from IIHT training that YEP directly supported.
Respected former National Assembly member Halifa Sallah and Pastor Forbes also delivered speeches at the graduation to inspire the graduates.