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Wednesday, October 27, 2021

UTG dean says Jammeh has democratised education

In an exclusive interview with The Standard following the launching of a video documentary on Gambian literature, Monday, Dr Gomez said: “At the time I was going to university in Senegal there was no university in The Gambia. There was no university extension programme. You had to go to Senegal, UK or Fourah Bay College in Sierra Leone where I did part of my PhD research as well as SOAS. Prior to 1994 the highest institution you can go here for studies is the college. It was after some of us left that the university came. Professor Kah is right in saying that the UTG is the best thing that has happened to The Gambia and any genuine Gambian will accept that. So, if President Jammeh decided to build UTG to allow children of poor Gambians to have access to education that is something that should be cherished and supported.”

He continued: “Before the university started there was a minimum of three reports that said The Gambia was not ready for a university. The only thing that could happen was to send people to neighbouring countries like Senegal, Sierra Leone, Nigeria and Ghana while children of certain families would be sent to UK and America. So the children of that elite would come back and replicate the system. What the president has done is to democratise education and bring it to door steps of many Gambians. The UTG is a replica of Gambian society with the children of poor and rich people. It has created a lot of opportunities and all segments of the Gambia are represented. We have to build on that transformation.”

Drawing contrast with the predicament of brilliant but poor students prior to the July 22nd Revolution, Dr Gomez observed: “The situation has changed now because there is a proper scholarship board (I am not saying the former ones are not proper) and all segments of society are represented. The teachers, ministries and private sector are there. You are graded based on performance even though priority is given to the sciences. How many people have got education through government scholarships even though their mums used to sell fish at the market? There are many. Gambians have no time to wait and be citizens who beg in style. We are not parasites. We are a committed people who are ready to serve humanity and contribute to development. That is the new Gambian we want.”

Read the Bantaba column on Friday for full details of Dr Gomez’s interview.


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