It has been more than half a century since our beloved nation gained independence; yet, we haven’t been able to be ‘independent’. In my humble opinion, the reason for this is simply that we have not had the relevant and required education system. Our education system has failed, and continues to fail. Every year, our schools produce thousands of graduates who come and seek to join the workforce mostly with little or no qualification – apart from the irrelevant paper qualification which does not always hold in the real and practical world.
Our education system should bring us out of the quagmire we are in. We live in a constant chicken and egg kind of dilemma. We depend on loans to finance our budgets, and then have to spend a lot of what we have to finance those loans. At the end of the day, we will again need other loans to finance the earlier ones or to cover those areas which we should have covered but could not because the money for it had been used to pay for a loan. When will we get out of this? More importantly, how do we get out of this?
In my opinion, it is through education. We must have an education system which produces workers for the nation. Such education system will give the young ones skills which are needed for the country to grow. Most of our youth are travelling outside the country, either legally or illegally through the back way. As a result, most of the jobs in our labour market are handled by foreigners. Gambians could have handled these and do them better because they will do it with the intention of building their country.
The world has changed and we must change along with it or be left behind. This change should start in the schools. We must teach our young ones relevant knowledge which is geared towards solving the main problems we have. For instance, we must focus on food production and preservation.
The youth must be given the prerequisite knowledge and expertise to contribute meaningfully to the development of our nation.
Sometimes, one sees our young people with very good certificates and paper qualification but when it comes to delivering at the work place, they cannot do anything. This is because they focused on the wrong thing. We must find out what we need and seek a solution. Find a way of providing what we need.
Mr President, use the University of The Gambia to make a study of the needs of the country. When they present what we need based on research, these facts will then be used to formulate a new education policy which will be in line with what the country needs to grow. Government policies should be based on research. That is what universities are for. Conducting researches and providing facts to the government so that every policy is based on fact, not just the view of political leaders and what they think we need; for that is just speculation.
We have reached a stage where at everything we do must be based on knowledge. The university could be tasked to do that for us. That is how we will break the crushing cycle of poverty and dependence.
Have a good day Mr President.