By Lamin Cham
The Yamoransa Model computer laboratory project on Thursday formally expanded its presence in Africa with the dedication of a lab in The Gambia, the first project of the Model to be opened outside Ghana.
The centre is located at the St. Joseph’s Senior Secondary School in Banjul. The project sponsor and promoter is Sukai Sey, a Gambian who attended girls only High School.
The Yamoransa Model supports community-led sustainable development projects that bring Information and Communications Technology (ICT) to underserved communities. It started in the town of Yamoransa in the Central Region of Ghana and is funded by the Helping Africa Foundation, a not-for-profit based in the United States.
In The Gambia, the Yamoransa Model provides two computer education labs sandwiched between a Maker Space, 52 computer stations, a projector and a giant conference hall screen at St, Josephs Senior Secondary School’s conference hall. Each of the two labs has capacity of 25 stations fitted with modern desktop computers in rooms that are also equipped with CCTV cameras for security purposes. The Maker Space room also has equipment to support robotic technology. All three rooms also have solar power backup ensuring constant electricity that can be independent of the national power authority, Nawec.
According to project sponsor and promoter Sukai Sey, the facility would also be available to students from St Augustine’s, Garba Jahumpa and Gambia High Senior Secondary schools which would each be assigned a day to use the facility during the week while Fridays are reserved for training.
“The computers have immense value because we have consulted with the Ministry of Education which provided us with the school curriculum which are installed onto the computers using a device called Asanka,” she said.
Madam Sey added that the project was also supported by former students of St Joseph who paid to refurbish the classrooms that house the labs and the conference hall.
The formal dedication was attended by hundreds of guests and students who heard speeches from the St. Joseph’s Scool Principal, the Board Chairperson, the Mayor of Banjul and a representative from the Minister of Education.
Principal Hannah Coker said the project is a celebration for the St Joseph family and new dawn for the school. She said the project is a realization of the vision she and her team have, which is to increase the quality of the education at the school.
Kafui Prebbie Program Manager and CEO of TECHAiDE, which provided the technical expertise, congratulated their Gambian counter parts Jokko-labs, a technology company based in Bakau for their professionalism and support. He said he was delighted that St. Josephs now has its own a robotic facility because St Josephs has a strong history in robotics including winning a recent competition despite not having their own lab.” You do not need to go far now to get even more skilled in robotics,” he said.
Japhet Aryiku, Executive Director of the Helping Africa Foundation expressed his confidence in the Gambia Center and praised the enthusiasm and efficiency of Sukai Sey and the St Josephs School family. He said the project represents the interconnection of human beings all around the world. He also praised the President of the Helping Africa Foundation Deborah Rose for her passion for women’s empowerment. Madam Rose then thanked everyone who worked on the successful implementation of the project which is the first project outside Ghana. The Helping Africa President congratulated St Joseph and the other beneficiary schools and advised the teachers to teach the children well so as to make the world a better place. The ceremony wrapped up with a speech by the permanent secretary Ministry of basic and Secondary School Education delivered on behalf of the Minister in which she thanked those involved in the project saying the project will complement the efforts of the Ministry in the provision of ICT education.
The guests were then taken on a tour of the labs after the official unveiling of a plaque dedicating the project to the memory of Aji Yagass Jarra, the mother of Sukai Sey, the project sponsor and promoter.