“Crab Island Initiative at an advance stage”- says Banjul North Law Maker

Friday, August 24, 2018

Ousman Sillah, National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul North said the process leading to the transformation of the former Crab Island School into a Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Centre is now at an advance stage as they are now entering the phase of implementation of the project.

The Banjul North lawmaker said this at a one day forum recently organised at the Region 1 Education Directorate at Kanifing for stakeholders to validate the Business Plan, Financial Projections and Monitoring Plan developed by a Consultant for the establishment and operation of the TVET Centre at the former Crab Island School.

“As indicated in the convocations, the purpose of this forum is to provide an update on the developments from the inception of the process to date and to share and validate the outcome of the consultancy on the establishment and operations of the Banjul North TVET Centre being promoted by the National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul North in partnership with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) and the International Trade Centre (ITC) under the auspices of the European Union (EU) supported Youth Empowerment Project (YEP),” said Mr. Sillah in his statement at the stakeholder validation forum.

As the promoter of this Banjul North TVET Centre, Mr. Sillah in sharing genesis of the initiative, noted that it all started during his campaign in the run-up to the National Assembly election last year when he expressed the desire to do something about the former Crab Island School when elected into office as the representative of the constituency given that the place appeared abandoned as teaching and learning are no longer taking place there. “The physical state of the school, with its crumbling walls and vandalized windows and doorframes, was not only an eyesore to many passersby but has generated genuine concern and interest among those who had an academic stint there,” he said.

Mr. Sillah said the present state of Crab Island School has created a sense of nostalgia among those who had seen the facility before in its glory days as one of the first purpose built ultra-modern educational institution in the country which was churning out very good students. He added that he, himself, did one academic year at Crab Island before proceeding to high school in the 70s.

 The Banjul North lawmaker revealed that the first engagement he had immediately after his election was to meet with the education officials who are responsible for the school to enquire about the fate of Crab Island which became a matter of public concern.

He said the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) revealed to him that as part of the Gambia government’s broader policy of making technical education an option for higher education and with support from donor partners a project has been signed to rebuild the abandoned buildings at the Crab Island Junior Secondary School and transform it into a technical high school.

“However, my initiative for Crab Island was applauded and MoBSE allocated part of the facility, which is under its custody, to be refurbished and transformed into the proposed Banjul North Technical and Vocational Education and Training Centre,” Mr. Sillah said.

He noted that this Crab Island TVET Centre aims to provide vocational, entrepreneurship, organisational and leadership skills for the unemployed, unskilled, potential and returning migrants, school dropouts and vulnerable groups within the Banjul and Greater Banjul metropolis.

Following his meeting with the ministry of basic and secondary education and having secured its support for the initiative, the Banjul North NAM said he proceeded to constitute a Steering Committee comprising the ministry, other key partners, including private individuals with the relevant expertise as well as himself, to guide the process.

Dilating on the process from inception to date, the Banjul lawmaker said it was kick-started by the stakeholder forum officiated by the Minister of Basic and Secondary Education to officially launch the Steering Committee in June. “This was followed by extensive consultations with key stakeholders in government, civil society and the private sector,” he added.

He said in June 2017, a Task Team was setup with the support of MoBSE to conduct a Youth Out-of-School focused group study in October 2017 to understand the most marketable skills and to outline the targeted areas of intervention of the proposed Banjul North Technical and Vocational Education Training Centre. This, he added, was followed by the industry consultation forum with the private sector held February 2018 to identify the needs of the job market in terms of skills acquisition and which was funded by the International Trade Centre under the auspices of the Youth Empowerment Project (YEP).

Mr. Sillah said the Steering Committee of the Banjul North TVET Initiative again received funding from the ITC for a consultancy to develop three key outputs namely a Business Plan, Projected Financial Statements and Monitoring and Evaluation Plan and which have been successfully completed and submitted in July 2018.

He said the aims of the Crab Island TVET Centre include providing short courses on technical and vocational education areas and mentorship for trainees between the ages of 16-35 with a view towards imparting skills that will allow for them to actively search for employment within a period of 3 to 9 months; prepare at least 300 youths every year to acquire the requisite skills and knowledge to become employable and self-employed individuals and entrepreneurs and to provide different types of industries with employees who have the requisite technical skills by building strong links between industry and youth.

It also targets to train and assist its trainees to acquire entrepreneurial skills and to establish their own businesses; serve as a transit or springboard for trainees who wish to pursue higher training through the academic route; to be a hub for young people between the ages of 15-35 and engage them in productive pursuits which will have the objective of better preparing for gainful employment and to foster the growth of the development of youth-focused enterprises, clubs, associations, performing groups.

Adama Jimba Jobe, Deputy Permanent Secretary Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education said The Gambia needs to appreciate and accept that “we” cannot move without giving science and technology what they deserve in the development equation.

“Since this is an initiative that would enable young people to contribute positively towards the development of this country, then it is something that the ministry of basic and secondary education would definitely want to support,” DPS Jobe said.

He called on the young people to venture into skills acquisition to boost commerce and industry. “I therefore want to register and assure the honourable Member of Parliament and the Steering Committee that as far as the ministry of basic and secondary education is concerned our doors are opened and we are more than willing to cooperate with you for the development of these young people who are supposed to or who will be the leaders of tomorrow.”

The forum was attended by stakeholder representatives from government, private sector, non-state institutions, communities, media and the steering committee of the Initiative.

Presentations of the plans were made by Ousman Sillah, Banjul North NAM, Mr. Alpha Bah, Planner at MoBSE, and Mr. Matarr John, Steering Committee Member.