On the occasion of International Literacy Day 2023, I want to reiterate that the country needs a reading framework and teachers should undergo a national teaching competency test every 5 years. I pay tribute to Dr Lenrie Peters, Dr Ralphina Almeida, Dr Cherno Omar Barry, Prof Pierre Gomez, teachers, scholars, writers, and all those who furthered the value of humanity through books and teaching.
The current literacy rate in the Gambia is exactly 50.78%. The Gambia has, according to Unesco, a literacy rate of 50.78%, while the male literacy rate is 61.77%, and the female literacy rate is 41.58%, showing a big gap between the sexes. There is more male’s literate in the Gambia than females. In our schools, boys perform better than girls in both internal and external examinations.
In comparison with other countries, The Gambia has a low literacy rate. A point of concern is that the literacy rate has decreased in recent years. The Gambia Education Policy is aligned with Sustainable Development Goal 4, focusing on accessible, equitable, and inclusive quality education for all. The Constitution of The Gambia states that basic education is a right and should be free, compulsory, and available to all. However, there is a huge gap in terms of advocacy, capacity building, and promoting relevant and quality education that matches modern learning needs. Covid-19 was a perfect example and an indicator of how unprepared our education sector had been in terms of aligning our curriculums with modern learning and teaching methods.
We have been doing very well in internal and external examinations, but there is every need to conduct a national teachers’ competency test every 5 years and lay off teachers who are not fit enough to remain in the teaching system. Those who pass the test can be maintained with a salary increment, and those who fail the test can be compensated and work on improving themselves.
Furthermore, we should develop a national reading framework to promote reading and effective learning in junior secondary schools. I say so because most Gambian students graduating from high school every year either have a reading problem or are not competent to enter the workforce effectively. Not just high school students but even some university graduates. The national reading framework should also promote and preserve our national languages as a way of promoting non-formal education.
A rebrand is upon us, and it’s been a long time coming. Maybe it’s a new age or a new revolution, but I’ve been thinking about The Gambia developing a national reading framework in addition to our existing education policies. We have a national problem of readership in this country. There is every need to re-evaluate our education system every year and fix the broken lewd of literacy that must be addressed critically.
What do you think will become of Gambian students in 2030? Something that encompasses our national languages should be put into consideration. The reason why we could not still overcome our national education crisis is not because there are not enough qualified teachers to teach in our schools—or there are not enough classrooms for teaching—but because it is the teaching methods, the rewards for teaching, and existing policies that must change.
One of the problems confronting The Gambia is the gradual but steady literacy erosion that can be noted from one region to another. People are becoming rather too lazy to read or too busy to learn.
Our nation faces a crisis of confidence mutating into a crisis of competence. Thus, a vicious cycle is created birthing Dead babies and bankrupt coffers. Leading to crises of legitimacy. Erupting often to engulf our homeland: Now the republic prostrates as if paralysed in worship of discredited deities fixated. On bogus stratagems and dead dogmas. As the executioners of the dreadful
dictatorship return to ascend. The highest offices of state were absolute power for its own sake to creates a zoo of minions and fake leaders with shameless cheerleaders who celebrate odious mediocrity: Now the prices of all things are dear and ubiquitous as swirling dust fear stalks and ambushes the working people with no security for life or property as we inherit the wind and sandstorms blight the lives of our compatriots.