#Article (Archive)

Fix the gaps in our education system

Mar 23, 2015, 9:48 AM

While the education system in The Gambia has been recommended for doing well as regards school expansion, access to education, and enrolment, it is, however, said to be challenged by the quality and relevance of the education received by our students, as well as by a shortage of well-trained teachers, weak management of schools and difficulty in retaining qualified education personnel.

There is also concern raised on lack of attention to education quality and its failure to reach the marginalized as contributing to the learning crisis.

According to Education For All Global Monitoring Report (2013 – 2014), the eleventh to be launched soon under the theme, “Teaching and Learning: Achieving Quality for All”, it is reported that, worldwide, 250 million children many of them from disadvantaged backgrounds are not learning the basics.

“In The Gambia,” the report stated, “the recently concluded Early Grade Reading Assessment and Early Grade Mathematics Assessments results are revealing low level of students learning outcomes. The EFA Goal 6 that deals with quality is far from being achieved. It is obvious that teachers, among many other factors, contributed to this critical learning crisis in The Gambia.”

Although it is also stated that the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education is preparing to recruit more than 6000 qualified primary school teachers by the end of the year, the reported problems of our education system are much more than just inadequate number of trained teachers

Inadequate teaching materials in schools and difficulty in retaining qualified education personnel are just too serious an issue to gloss over; they need to be properly tackled and addressed by our education authorities.

We cannot afford to be investing heavily in the training of teachers only to lose them out to other sectors and countries.

More incentives should be put in place to retain our qualified teachers, for we need them as much as we need workers and servants in other sectors of development such as health and the legal system.

The health, legal system and agriculture, for instance, have very important role to play, but education creates the framework and knowledge base conducive to spur these other essential sectors to reach the height or level beneficial to the well-being and prosperity of the nation.

We would only build castles in the air if the modus operandi of our education is not given a proper line of direction or well prepared to positively affect our development agenda or sectors.

The relevant authorities should continually be re-examining education policies and teacher incentives so that we do not land our education system into a situation of sixes and sevens.

When all is said and done, the quality and relevance of our education system dictates the quality and productivity of all other sectors of our nation.

So our advice to the Education ministry is to continue the good work they are doing in terms of expansion of schools and access to education, but this should be done in tandem with the right strategy and tactics.

We want better results from all the players – the students, the teachers and the authorities.

“Education is more than a luxury; it is a responsibility that society owes to itself.”

Robin Cook