By Tabora Bojang
A number of struggling vocational and skills training institutions has been threatened with eviction over rent arrears due to the continuous lock down of all training institutions since the outbreak of Covid-19 in the country, the chairman of the National Association of Vocational & Skills Training Institutes (NAVSTI) Abdoulie Sowe told journalists at a press conference yesterday.
All training institutions were ordered to close for business since the declaration of the first state of emergency on 17 March 2020.
According to chairman Sowe, the impact of the closure has far reaching negative outcomes on over one hundred training institutions across the country warning that if the matter continues it would lead to the permanent closure of several institutions.
“Majority of the training institutions did not generate any revenues for the past six months knowing they rely solely on school fees to settle their costs and as a result, many can no longer pay the salaries of staff and struggle to cover costs for electricity, rents and operational costs,” he said.
“Some of the institutions have even been given eviction notices to leave since they could not pay their bills.”
“We have watched with utter dismay the partial or full easing of restrictions for almost all other sectors of the economy. It has been six months until the recent easing of restrictions nothing tangible has been said about the TVET centres.” Sowe added.
The Association said it felt dismayed that the government’s bail out package for educational institutions covers only public institutions like GTTI, MDI and The Gambia College and “unfairly left out” all other institutions.
Chairman Sowe further charged that majority of the training schools are dying gradually with no interventions from the Ministry of Higher Education.
“We are urgently calling on the government to provide financial support to all TVET centres to cover cost of operation, pay the salaries of our staff, rents and other operational expenses.
We also want the government to allow TVET institutions to open forthwith for business with immediate effect while observing Ministry of Health’s guidelines.”