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Joint donor review, supervision mission forum underway

Jun 12, 2012, 12:24 PM | Article By: Abdou Rahman Sallah

Bilateral and multilateral development partners of the education sector yesterday began a week-long joint donors’ review and supervision mission forum, currently under way at the Regional Education Directorate in Region One Kanifing.

The objective of the forum, according to officials, is to ensure the education sector plan is successfully implemented within the framework of the Paris Declaration commitment on aid effectiveness, aid alignment with national development agenda and improved coordination for accountability for all.

Speaking at the forum, Fatou Lamin Faye, minister of Basic and Secondary Education, said achieving quality education continues to be a challenge, especially in some of the regions, where the gains made in the children’s reading abilities in 2009 from 2007 levels have not been sustained in 2011.

“As we continue to come together every six months to jointly review our programs and interventions in the sector, with a view to determine the progress or otherwise being made in the target objectives, the joint donors’ review and supervision mission has come at a time when education ministries are working on their policies, that will be followed by the preparation of a single sector strategic plan,” she stated.

According to the Basic and Secondary Education minister, the sector has made considerable achievements through collaboration with in-country and international development partners.

However, she noted that there are still challenges which require non-conventional and non-traditional strategies such as the conditional cash transfer intervention being used to reach out to children at all levels.

Dr Mamadou Tangara, Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, said his ministry is receiving support from the World Bank through the additional financing in the area of capacity building for staff development and STI policies, among other things.

“I want to inform the gathering that MoHERST developed a draft higher and tertiary education policy, and is currently being reviewed for finalization after a comprehensive validation process,” Tangara said.

Abdou Colley, Minister of Finance and Economic Affairs, said it is no secret the education sector’s share in the national budget has shown remarkable increase since 2006.

According to him, it is not just about meeting funding targets, but effective utilization of the limited resources allocated as this will ultimately  trigger more funding allocation by both government and partners.

“Improving the overall quality of basic education remains a challenge, but with a robust education sector plan in place and the commitment and good leadership being demonstrated by government with the support of development partners, we are confident the country stands a good chance of reaching the education MDGs and the Education for All goals by 2015,” Colley stated.

WFP Representative  Victoria Ginja said the joint donors’ review and supervision forum is an opportunity, particularly for the education partners, to discuss and improve the alignment of development assistance to government priorities in the sector, thus harmonizing interventions to avoid duplication of efforts.

Noting that the local education group and the education sector are very fruitful in the advancement of the children’s education, Ms Ginja said this includes the national education policy review process, development and application of bottleneck analysis tools in basic education  to identify key constraints in the education system and efficient and effective strategies to overcome them.

Madam Nathalie Lahire of the World Bank revealed that The Gambia is one of the few countries where teacher unions are recognized as true partners to strengthening the education system, noting that strong leadership, government commitment and opportunities for dialogue are key ingredients for success.

Revealing that important achievements have been made over the past years through the provision of hardship allowances to teachers in remote areas, Madam Lahire said this has made teaching more attractive for graduates to venture in the field, as shown in records.