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Tourism Minister says Barrow committed to creating 150,000 jobs to curb back-way

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By Omar Bah

The Minister of Tourism and Culture, Hamat NK Bah, has disclosed that President Adama Barrow made a commitment to create one hundred and fifty thousand jobs to stop irregular migration.

Reacting to the recent surge in numbers of Gambian youths attempting to reach Europe while addressing crowds in Sabach Sanjal at the meet the people tour, Mr Bah said: “That is why, during his trip to Mecca, he signed an agreement with the Saudi government for Gambian youths to go there and work. The government has also taken the responsibility to train Gambians at schools of nursing, the Gambia Hospitality Training Institute (GHTHI), and the University of the Gambia schools of agriculture, science, and technology on skills that would help to propel the country forward.”

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He said during the COVID, the country lost 500 skilled workers to the overseas market in the hospitality industry alone.

“We have about 500 Gambians from the hospitality industry who are now employed in Europe and other countries, and they didn’t go through the backway,” he said. Minister Bah said the GTHI currently has over 20,000 applications from Gambians who want to study, and they can only accept 2000.

“This is why the government has taken measures to increase the capacity of the school to be able to train a minimum of ten to fifteen thousand Gambians every year, and the government will create jobs for these people both here and outside the country. I should have been in Qatar to negotiate the possibility of providing the school with the needed equipment,” he added.

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Minister Bah said the government is also providing a number of scholarships to Gambians studying in the areas of medicine, science, and technology.

“We want to stop the idea that a son or daughter of a poor family cannot go to university,” he said.

He said the government is committed to reversing the backway syndrome through sensitisation and providing Gambians with quality education that would help them be marketable both domestically and internationally.

Bah urged parents to stop paying for their children who want to embark on irregular migration to Europe and invest those monies in education and skills acquisition.

Hamat Bah also pointed to failures in Africa’s education systems as the factor leading young people to seek greener pastures in Europe.

According to the UN, sub-Saharan Africa has the highest rate of education exclusion globally, with nearly 60% of its youth aged 15 to 17 not in school.

“A bad educational system is the recipe for our young people dying at sea trying to reach Europe. Time has come for governments in Africa and Asia to revisit their educational policies,” he said.

He said the devastation of irregular migration has proven worse than COVID in Africa.

“The young people who should succeed us in Africa and Asia are the ones we are watching die in the sea. That is very sad. Everyone of us should reflect on the deaths of these young people. If you watch videos and see the manner in which these people die, you find it difficult to even eat. Imagine that you give birth to a child and do everything to bring him or her up, only to wake up one day and realise that he or she has died on the backway,” he said.

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