Nov 16, 2009, 4:36 PM
The Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Aja Fatou Lamin Faye, on Tuesday officially launched the National Volunteer Teacher Programme at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.
In her Inaugural speech, Hon. Faye acknowledged the immense contribution volunteers are making towards national development.
She said the strategic partnership between her ministry and volunteer recruitment organisations such as VSO, Peace Corps and the Nigerian TAC is a clear manifestation of the positive role volunteers play in national development.
She said that following the publication of two researches commissioned by UNV and VSO, it was established that The Gambia offers an environment conducive for national volunteering to succeed.
“In pursuit of this and while institutional and structural arrangements are being dissected, the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education was identified to pilot the initiative. Despite the enormous challenges inherent in the initiative, MOBSE has, without any reservation or hesitation, accepted to pilot national volunteering by supplying teachers to senior secondary schools in the two most disadvantaged regions of the country, namely regions five and six,” she says.
She noted that the pursuit of universal access to high quality and relevant education to all as enshrined in the Education Policy 2004 - 2015 and the Strategic Plan 2006 - 2015 exerts rapidly increasing pressure on teacher supply in public schools in general and senior secondary schools in particular. While the system has been attempting to surmount this phenomenal challenge across the country through the recruitment and equitable distribution of teachers, indicators continue to show shortages, especially at the senior secondary school level. Couple with teacher shortage is the phenomenal non-Gambian dominance of the staff complement the country’s senior secondary school.
According to her, the teacher shortage is a potential threat and weakening factors to the sector’s ability to sustain the gains attained thus far.
She also lamented that “equally, too much reliance on non-Gambian teachers does not land the system on save waters, hence the unreliable and unsustainable nature of our current system”.
She said the ministry has therefore developed a strategy to enhance its capability to adequately resource the senior secondary schools.
For her part, the VSO Country Director, Kadijatou Lamin Njie, said the aim of the VSO National Volunteer Programme in The Gambia is no different. “Our collaboration with the Ministry of Economic Planning and the UNDP is to support the establishment of a framework for the management of the overall National Volunteer Programme in The Gambia,” she said. “Through our collaboration with Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, VSO aims to harness the energy of active citizens to support the implementation of the National Education Policy and the Education for All goals in tandem.
She concluded her statement by conveying the VSO’s sincere gratitude to the Government of The Gambia through the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and of Planning and Industrial Development for their visionary leadership.