By Olimatou Coker
Sub-Saharan Africa Skills and Apprenticeship Stakeholders Network (SASASNET) in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher EducationResearch, Science and Technology (MoHERST) and the Authority held a day-long stakeholders sensitisation and working session at the NAQAA Conference Hall in Kanifing.
SASASNET was established in Abuja, Federal Republic of Nigeria, from 23 – 25 July 2023, by the English-speaking countries in Africa south of the Sahara to promote the skills and apprenticeship agenda in the continent in which The Gambia was represented by senior government officials and non-state stakeholders.
The Gambia stakeholders working forum is organised to enable the Gambian delegates to share the key outcomes of the Abuja meeting with representatives of various skill areas and trade associations in the country to consider forming a National Federation of Artisans. The forum highlighted the importance of The Gambia’s SASASNET processes involvement and to chart the way forward for the country in promoting skills and apprenticeship development at both the formal and informal sector levels.
The forum also seeks to promote the informal sector as part of efforts to implement a communique in accordance with the Abuja Action Plan.
Lamin Manneh, Deputizing the Chief Executive of NAQAA, who doubles as the Director of Quality Assurance, underscored the need for action to support and organize skilled workers in the country who have lost hope due to lack of expertise and support.
“We have this network that will synergize our efforts, share experiences, share resources. It’s important. We have a lot of youth within the region that feel that there’s no way they can make it here. What do we do to change that mindset? What do we have in place because he’s not only talking to them? You must do things that are tangible for them to see that will encourage them. So in my opinion, the skilled workers that are in the industry out there operating on their own having their apprentices with them, work with them closely, support them and organize them. I think it can bring a lot of positive changes,” he explained
Ousman Sillah, former National Assembly Member For Banjul North, who is also the Secretary General of SASASNET, called on the African continent to give attention to the informal sector to combat irregular migration.
“The primary objective of SASASNET is to promote, coordinate, standardize and support skills and apprenticeship development in Sub Saharan Africa. As you all know, the country is grappling with challenges that require Africa to skill up its youth or Africa shall continue to become the poverty capital of the world.”
He added that many of the youths in the Gambia and other African countries who are likely unskilled and uncertified are escaping the continent through dangerous means such as the irregular migration phenomenon.
Babou Ceesay, the Enterprise Manager of NAQAA, disclosed that NAQAA aims to introduce entrepreneurship as a model in schools.
NAQAA is the body responsible for continuous quality improvement and efficient performance of the country’s tertiary and higher education institutions in terms of their systems and programs.