By Tabora Bojang
The Minister of Higher Education, Research Science and Technology, Badara A Joof, has said that two-thirds of his ministry’s policies on higher education will be centered on the expansion of science, technology, engineering and mathematics courses to ensure continued economic growth and respond to the country’s developmental needs.
According to Minister Joof, investment in STEM education and training is a critical drive to the country’s future economy, and that is what prompted the ministry to come up with the new policy to train young Gambians to become experts, professionals and technicians in the STEM areas.
He was speaking to The Standard on the sidelines of a graduation for the first cohort of over 45 Gambian students under the World Bank’s Africa Centre of Excellence Project.
“As the new policy in the ministry, we want to train as many PhDs and masters in the stem area because this is what we would need to have our engineers, our doctors, our surveyors and agriculturists, which are the key areas in the economy of this country,” he stated.
He said when this is achieved, “Gambians will be able to control our own narratives as civil engineers, mechanical engineers, and agriculturists, rather than depending on outsiders, which has two disadvantages; we pay them heavily and that means the money goes out instead of paying our own Gambians and the capacity gap will remain.”
“When we train our own people, we fill in the capacity gaps and at the same time, the money stays here. We want to develop GTTI into technical university and MDI into a social science university to respond to our development needs.”
He said The Gambia has not made huge strides in higher education since independence, saying the time has now come for excellence in tertiary education.
“The policy has to speak to the program, the program speaks to the curriculum, and the curriculum addresses our development needs.”