The University of The Gambia, being the citadel of knowledge in this country, has over the years developed partnerships with other institutions of higher education around the world in order to position itself as a centre of excellence. Such unique ventures recently sparked another trip to Gaston Berger University, Saint Louis, Senegal. The delegation left Banjul on the 2 June to meet their counterparts in Senegal as the University and Gaston Berger University established a joint master’s programme in mathematics in which ten students are currently enrolled as the first batch.
Dr Pierre Gomez, who is the acting dean, School of Arts and Sciences lead the delegation. He was accompanied by Mr Jimmy Hendry Nzally of university relations office, Mr Cheriff Tijan Aidara, mathematics lecturer and some students in the programme, some of whom are graduate assistants at the UTG. The team spent five days in Senegal, availing students the opportunity to interact with their supervisors at Gaston Berger University.
Upon their arrival, the delegation was warmly received by Professor Ahmadou Bamba Sow, head of applied mathematics and who happens to be the contact person for this programme at Gaston Berger University.
The following morning, Prof Sow facilitated a closed door meeting with the dean, Faculty of Science and Technology. During that meeting, Dr Gomez thanked his colleagues and reiterated the purpose of the visit, which was clearly known to everyone prior to their arrival. The dean assured Dr Gomez of his school’s willingness to do more with the University of The Gambia especially in the area of science and technology. He further stressed the need for staff and student exchange, with a view to capacity building to list but a few.
At the end of the meeting, the Dean met the students at the conference room where he was also introduced to the Masters Students by both Prof Ahmadou Bamba Sow and Dr Gomez. He welcomed them to Gaston Berger and urged them to keep up the hard work. Phillip Nyouky of UTG gave a short remark on behalf of his colleagues, thanking Gaston Berger University for the support and encouragement since the inception of the programme.
At the end of the meeting, the delegation was taken on a conducted tour of some of the university’s facilities. Places visited included the data centre, both the main and science libraries, laboratories, auditorium, doctorate students’ labs and dormitories.
In the afternoon, the masters programme was collectively assessed and a face-to-face discussion with the masters students and their supervisors was organised. Some of the issues raised centred on the following:
· Willing and hard-working students were motivated by the programme;
· Support received from the UTG administration for trips in The Gambia in terms of accommodation, transport, and feeding was commended.
· Brevity of visit;
· Problem of students reading prior to lectures was a problem;
· The following three courses: Functional Analysis, Theory of Measure and Topology were not taught in the UTG undergraduate programme. Thus it was a handicap for the students.
· Availability of materials for students to do further reading;
· Academic background of some of the students who lacked the prerequisites or understanding of basic mathematical functions;
· Students lacked full concentration because of their workload elsewhere (i.e. UTG or the college).
After hearing from the professors, Dr Gomez made the following recommendations since UTG is a developing institution with only one PhD lecturer in the Mathematics Unit:
· That support be given for a proposed review of the UTG BSc Mathematics Programme for students to be well-grounded before doing their master’s;
· That UGB professors be invited to teach the following three courses: Functional Analysis, Theory of Measure and Topology in the UTG undergraduate programm.
· That there be lecturers for a minimum of three weeks instead of two weeks in the master’s programme.
· That UGB come with their graduate assistants if possible in order to be conducting practicals in the afternoons.
· That the master’s defence take place in Banjul around September or October 2014 and UGB team of professors come over to organise it.
In the morning, the supervisors had another chance of meeting with their UTG master’ss students. In this session, students were tasked to read and further given individual assignments for further reading before going back to The Gambia. In the afternoon students spent time at the library researching on their research topics with the supervision of their mentors.
A courtesy call on the Rector of Gaston Berger University followed later on in the day. The meeting was well attended by senior staff and management of the University. Prof Sowe introduced the Gambian delegation to the rector and everyone present. Dr Gomez, in turn, as head of delegation of the UTG first of all applauded the rector and his team for the warm welcome on their arrival. He further went on to unveil greetings from the vice chancellor of the University of The Gambia, Professor Muhammadou MO Kah to the rector of Gaston Berger University.
Moreover, Dr Pierre Gomez, went on to make the following requests which were all granted during the Rector’s statement:
1. Review of UTG BSc and master’s programmes;
2. Renewal of the 25 weeks offered to UTG for teaching missions in the programme in mathematics through UGB World Bank Centre of Excellence;
3. Gaston Berger University professors to teach at the UTG through staff exchange;
4. To organise joint research and assist UTG Lecturers publish in UGB journals;
5. To facilitate UTG students and staff to study at Gaston Berger University and pay the same tuition fees as their Senegalese counterparts;
6. UTG researchers to come to UGB to do research work and be supervised by UGB professors.
The rector’s first of all thanked the head of delegation for making it to his university and also extended his greetings to the vice chancellor, Prof Kah. He went further to applaud his colleagues for their continuous hard work in their respective areas and disciplines.
In response to Dr Gomez’s requests, Rector Professor Lamine Gueye, further lamented on a free scholarship that was given to the University of The Gambia which was not utilised. However, this time around, he will award a PhD scholarship to the University of The Gambia with the hope of benefitting both institutions.
He was also pleased to inform the gathering that the 25-week agreement for the programme which has just ended will be gladly renewed. Gaston Berger University’s Centre of Excellence will fund the trips of its staff members visiting The Gambia. They will continue to provide free accommodation for UTG whenever they go to Gaston Berger University.
Prepared by Mr Jimmy Hendry Nzally, University Relations Office]]>