May 28, 2009, 9:02 AM
The forum, the first of its kind, according to organizers, will discuss issues including job creation for the youth, role of students in the socio-economic development of the nation, quality assurance and higher education, role of students in conflict resolution, gender equality in tertiary and higher education and the importance of economic integration in the sub-region and its impacts on modern education.
Briefing journalists at the UTG Faculty of Law campus ahead of the forum, Yahya W.K. Marong, president of the National Union of Gambian Students (NUGS), said the national union of Gambian students was established in 2005.
He said since its inception it has been working with 8 tertiary institutions, and statistics have shown that they have 5 emerging universities including the University of The Gambia and 76 other tertiary institutions that are all working and training students in the country.
Giving the genesis of NUGS, he said that when GAMSU was abolished in 2000 after the student demonstration, there was need for students to come together to create another association that would gear towards preaching peace and security in the country, preaching national development to its members, as well as ensuring that people are violence-free.
They also concentrate on academics, developing and empowering themselves through academic forums among others, he explained.
The national conference, the first of its kind, also aims at bringing all tertiary institutions and higher learning institutions under one roof to hold discussions to achieve the above goals, Mr Marong stated.
Bakary Fatty, legal adviser of NUGS, said the union has been trying to promote the welfare of students in the country as well showing the responsibility of students when it comes to national development, which is why they are coming up with forums like this one.
“The rationale behind organising the forum is to create a platform for students in The Gambia whereby they will discuss fundamental academic issues, ranging from socio-economic development, to quality assurance, role of students in conflict resolutions and a host of issues,” he stated.
He pointed out that the forum would enable students to discuss, analyze and assess the country’s academic policy and come up with sound recommendations at the end of the day.
“We believe we cannot be lip servicing; we should be pragmatic in our actions,” said the NUGS legal adviser.
This, he noted, is one of the reasons they deemed it paramount to come up with such a forum, adding that the forum would comprise mainly tertiary institutions involving almost 67 tertiary institutions and the 5 universities in The Gambia.
Mr Fatty revealed that each institution will be represented by two participants who will at the end serve as the voice of their institutions.
He urged all institutions to send in their representatives, adding that the rationale for taking the forum to SBEC International College is, they believe SBEC is another college emerging institution.
He said they have invited representatives from the UNDP, lecturers from UTG, the Secretary General and head of the Civil Service and Minister of Presidential Affairs, among other dignitaries.
Their targeted budget for the forum is nine hundred and nine-four thousand, one hundred dalasi (D994,100), he said, but they could only secure nothing more than forty-five thousand dalasi (D45,000) as at the time of the press briefing.
He said looking at the magnitude of the forum and the number of students that will be attending, they think the amount of money they are requesting for is justifiable because they will be responsible for the feeding of the students for 3 days in addition to other expenses.