By Yankuba Manneh
Could the restoration of Civics as a subject of study in the Gambia’s education curriculum remedy the growing misconceptions of democracy, freedom of speech, freedom of the press, civic obligations and responsibilities in the country? Well, the need to resuscitate and mainstream Civics in our education system has forever been a concern for most Gambians especially those that had once offered it before it was cleansed off from the curriculum.
It is against this backdrop that the Education Students’ Association (EDUSA) of the University of The Gambia organised a symposium on Wednesday 18th April, 2018 at Gambia College, Brikama with the ultimate aim of recruiting the public and the concerned authorities’ attention to the relevance of Civics in our new dispensation. The theme for the event was: “The Importance of Civic Education in Gambia Education System.” This educational symposium was well-attended and had drawn students and teachers from Senior Schools in Brikama, Gambia College, the University of the Gambia, as well as the invited dignitaries.
In his opening statement, the President of EDUSA, Alhagie B. Sama welcomed and thanked all the students in the School of Education University of The Gambia especially his executive for making this event a success. He equally expressed gratitude and appreciation to the Dean of School of Education, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, the GTU, and UTG Students’ Union for their continuous support and collaboration in the implementation of his association’s activity plans in the past year. President Sama expounded on the significance of Civic Education in the new Gambia, thus he appealed to the authorities for its rejuvenation into our education system.
The Senior Programme Officer for National Council for Civic Education (NCCE), Mr. Yusupha Bojang explained that Civic Education means the process of educating and promoting civic engagement and participation among the citizenry to be able to know their civic obligations and responsibilities in a democratic state. Bojang emphatically said part of his Council’s aims is to enlighten and reliably inform the populace through different platforms of their civic rights and responsibilities for participatory democracy, as well as to understand the concept of good governance, how government is formed and its functions to the state.
For his part, Mr. Essa Sowe, the Deputy General Secretary of The Gambia Teachers’ Union (GTU) highly hailed and commended the executive of EDUSA for coming up with such initiative, noting that this could not have come at an appropriate time than now. Mr. Sowe strongly argued that Civic Education is a process and not an event. He further highlighted the crucial roles of teachers in promoting and enhancing Civic Education in The Gambia, citing that teachers are essential recipes for peace and sustainable growth in any democratic nation. DGS Sowe, however, challenged teachers to be proactive and jealously embraced the tenets of their profession, while urging them to continuously strengthen the democratic values, norms, and cultures through teaching and learning in their various communities.
” Being a teacher should not deter one’s role in the community,” said Mr. Sowe. He genuinely recommended the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science, and Technology to consider reintegrating and reincorporating Civics into our education curriculum for a good reason. Sowe called on the government and the state to ensure rights for association, assembly, and other democratic values are supported and strengthened for greater participation and development.
Muhammed BS Jallow, the Permanent Secretary of MoBSE underscored the significance of Civic Education, noting that it would be necessary to educate our children the relevance of it. “Time has come for The Gambia to talk about proper civic education and participation in this new dispensation. Countries such as Ghana and Nigeria still offer Civics as a subject in their curriculum, and about 95% of the students who sit to WASSCE have good credits in it,” said Mr. Jallow.
He highlighted some challenges involved in the process of restoring Civics ranging from designing a curriculum (distinguishing facts from opinions), those aspects to be in the curriculum, training of teachers in Civic Education to the teaching materials required. PS Jallow eventually assured the students that his ministry together with the GTU and other relevant stakeholders will work closely to bring back Civics in Gambia Education system.
The event was characterised by presentation of certificates to the Dean, School of Education, the GTU, MoBSE, and GTUCCU in appreciation of their unflinching support and motivation to students of the School of Education, University of The Gambia through the 8th executive council of EDUSA.