By Olimatou Coker
The Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology in collaboration with UNESCO conducted ICT and auto air conditioning repairs and maintenance training programs at the NAQAA conference hall in Kanifing.
The two institutions are implementing a capacity-building project on TVET and digital skills for young people for improved lifelong learning under the UNESCO participation programme.
The main aim of the project is to draft a training programme in digital literacy and auto mechanic air-conditioning repairs and maintenance.
Speaking, Dr. Gibril Jaw, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority (NAQAA), said: “ I think this four day program was useful, fruitful and successful. When you bring like minded people together, the outcome is always positive. It has been a participatory process. We disagree to agree. And I think it turned out the way we expected. Now it is time to walk the talk. We implement what we have discussed is a competency based program. It cannot be treated like participants are just coming to this training to satisfy their intellectual curiosity.”
He said competence is the ability to use knowledge and skills in context and independently, so since it is a competency based program, the knowledge component must be very tall.
He added that skills must be acquired before someone can be declared competent.
“Then it is a heavy responsibility on the side of USET. And we run out of excuses because we are being supported by UNESCO and not that do not agencies are always interested in impact analysis.”
He also said they are not training learners only, but they are trying to address societal problems, through a training program.
“NAQAA is very pleased to be associated with this. And I suggest that these types of programs be extended to other areas of the TVTE as well. It’s not only air conditioning and ICT, welding and fabrication also is a problem. We have problems in underwater welding when vessels come to The Gambia ports and they have issues for underwater welding. They have to go to Senegal to bring underwater welders. We don’t have qualified people for that. There are many areas in which young Gambians need to be trained. So that employment will be created. You see grid operators, bulldozer operators, and competent ones are highly needed in this country. You see, this major project approached them. Most of them are not Gambians. Well if all of them so, this is an opportunity that we should trap and train our young people in areas that are very much needed,” he said.
Gaston Mendy, Head of Department at USET, thanked the Minister of Higher Education, Research Science and Technology for the project.
“For our country to be developed, to develop and be self dynamic, we must be ready and we must see the need in TVTE.”
Mendy outlined that the document validated will be used as a guide in building the knowledge and the skills of these youths.
He reiterated that USET would provide space and resources needed for this intensive 25 days training. “We would create an uninterrupted ad hog computer lab for ICD and work for auto mechanics, air conditioning, repair and maintenance. We as a center are mandated to train the middle level human resources, which is USET. We are much welcoming and ready to be part of such an initiative, now and in the future. In these four days, I have learned a lot as far as curriculum development is concerned. And I’m sure others also do the same.”
He urgds colleagues who have been also trained to make sure that the goal of this project is achieved by ensuring that enough practical knowledge is administered to these trainees.
Mengeh Joof, a participant, described the program as an auspicious one. “I will say it’s a training that benefits every institution here. So we have to take off the training and then make use of it. What I like about this training is mostly hands-on. Which means students need the practical aspects to be able to acquire our skills.”
Anothny Mendy, Director of Higher and Tertiary Education at MoHERTS, said this is a short term program, which will last for about four months. And the intention is to capacitize the youths of the Gambia.
He added that the focus should be on ICT literacy and auto mechanic air conditioning repairs and maintenance which is something very rare for us in the country. “So I think we are trying to see how best we can have the first cohort of trainees who later venture into the trade area and at least have a living or make a living out of it. The need for us to acquire skills cannot be overemphasized, so this is a journey that we have started. We do hope in the near future to have long term planning programs that will actually bring at least a certificate or diploma program for these trainees. And it will help them at least to pursue a career in auto air conditioning repairs.”
Director Mendy also thanked UNESCO for supporting the initiative and for providing relevant funds and thanked NAQAA for supporting them in terms of technical and the advice in even the criteria for the selection of the candidates. He thanked USE for accepting to host the program, providing them with the learning space and some of the resources that might be needed for the brilliant and to all the participants for the time.