By Tabora Bojang
An in-depth survey report on The Gambia’s tertiary and higher education systems conducted in 40 institutions across the country has indicated a catalogue of incompetencies ranging from poor governance and leadership, lack of capacity and expertise in quality assurance, inconsistency of programmes to the labour market realities among a host of issues.
The study investigated quality assurance needs and practices in the tertiary and higher education sector with a view to establishing baseline information to help institutions in putting in place effective internal quality assurance mechanisms.
There are seven higher institutions and 103 non-degree tertiary institutions in the country including public and private institutions.
The study revealed that the quality of workforce in these institutions in respect of administrative staff is generally low adding that this grossly affects the governance and leadership in the institutions.
“Most teaching staff in the higher education level meet the minimum requirement for teaching with a master’s degree while at the tertiary level many staff posses the same level of qualification as the level they are teaching.
“Out of 466 persons reported in the higher education institutions 11% of the males are PhD holders and 1% females; 43% are male with MSc degree and 13% females hold the same level of qualification while 23% and 10% represented males and females with highest number of bachelor’s degree.”
“Out of 179 persons from the tertiary level, 1% males are with PhD with no female PhD holder; 30% of males hold MSc degrees and 11% females while 44 and 15% represented males and females with bachelor’s degree.”
The study further indicated inadequacy of facilities such as libraries, workshops, and laboratories continue to bedevil the system resulting to ineffective practical trainings, limited academic prowess and the lack employment for graduates.
It also revealed gaps between education and training providers as many programmes offered by the tertiary and higher education institutions are designed without adequate consideration of the Gambian labour market.
“69% of the institutions the study focuses on mentioned to having no collaboration with industry in terms of research, while 53% indicate to having no data on output and studies on the employment rate of graduates.”
In the higher education sector, the study further states inadequate research culture emanating from low proportion of PhD holders among academic staff.
“The level of quality assurance awareness among staff and stakeholders of tertiary and higher education institutions is very low. This contributes to lack of quality assurance personnel or specialist in the system”
The survey respondent from the six universities in the country shows that 67% of them do not have an internal quality assurance policy. At the tertiary level, 77% of the institutions indicate not having any internal quality assurance policy.
The study validated by the stakeholders yesterday is funded within the framework of the Unesco-Shenzhen project on quality assurance in Africa.
It was under auspices of the National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority, NAQAA mandated to regulate, supervise, and monitor public and private skills training and higher education institutions.