#Article (Archive)

Call for a rethink

Mar 20, 2014, 9:53 AM

Our readers would recall that we reported Tuesday the sudden closure of Yavuz Selim Anatolian School by the Gambian authorities.

We also stated that the reportedly terse one-sentence written directive to close the school did not spell out any reason for the decision.

One would assume that the implications of such a decision on the parents and pupils/students of the school had been carefully considered.

We have come to learn, for instance, that a Gambian girl-child who was very keen and good in class, is now sitting at home, not attending school. That would certainly be the fate of her classmates, and the scores of other children, boys and girls who attended the nursery, primary, junior and senior secondary schools operated by Yavuz Selim.

We pointed out in our story that the ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, MoBSE, in the past would announce that a particular school was closed, because the school authorities failed to comply with national regulations (or a specific regulation, such as not allowing the teaching of Arabic Islamic Studies in the school, in contravention of the Education Act).

There was no public announcement or press release issued to announce this particular school closure.

And the fact that the authorities at the ministry of Education in Banjul declined to comment, when approached by us to shed light on the issue, has not helped matters either.

As we stated in our editorial column in Wednesday’s edition of The Point, there is a crying need for transparency and access to public information.

“A government is transparent when information that it holds about its activities, policies etc., is available to the public…transparency has numerous benefits.

“The public has the right to hold the government and public officials to account for how they act and for the decisions they take…

“The role of the media is, particularly, important here, because journalists play the role of ‘public watch-dogs’ ”.

Again, as highlighted in our report on this matter, we have no hard evidence that there is a link.

But we do know that in Turkey, where the matter had to be brought to the parliament for a bill to be passed, the private schools ordered closed were to do so by September 2015 - not immediately!

There, the government also gave a reason for closing the schools. It said this was to improve standards and ensure equity in the education system.

Moreover, the government in Ankara also announced that it was going to find school places for the affected students and teachers.

We call on the national education authorities to have a rethink, and to look into the possibility of allowing Yavuz Selim School to re-open and operate, at least until the end of this academic year.

This will enable the school authorities to wind up; the pupils/students to complete their courses for this school year; and, the parents to prepare and look for another school for their child, come next year.

It is our view that this would be a more humane arrangement, which takes into consideration the interests and rights of allconcerned.

“Truth never damages a cause that is just.”

Mahatma Gandhi