#Article (Archive)

NGO official champions investment in education

Feb 2, 2010, 12:55 PM | Article By: Alieu Jabang

Kebba K. Barrow, the Secretary-General of the Jolly Riders Foundation in The Gambia, and a programme officer at TANGO, has said that investment in education is the strongest line of defence for any country's economic survival and comeback.

According to Barrow, a person's earnings increase by 10% for each year of schooling, they receive - translating to a 1% annual increase in GDP if good quality education is given to the entire nation.

He added that with the estimates of unemployment increasing by 30-50 million in the developing world, and 200 million more people being pushed into extreme poverty, it is crucial that funding education is not constrained.

Mr. Barrow, who was speaking in an interview with this reporter recently, revealed that there are over half a billion illiterate people in the world today.

"There are 75 million children out of school and 776 million illiterate adults today. Yet, educated and healthy people have the best opportunities to participate in and make a lasting contribution to their societies," he said.

These remarks of the Jolly Riders Secretary-General came after his organisation established an educational centre with learning and teaching materials for the use of Gambian teachers and students at Siffoe Senior Secondary School.

In the view of Barrow, fondly called KKB by many, the poor countries should be given room in macro-economic policy to continue the good work they started.

"Whilst rich countries have launched stimulus packages to promote economic growth, this luxury is denied to poor nations. As long as IMF conditions continue it is unlikely that the poorest countries will continue to build on fragile gains made in education over recent years. Poor countries must be allowed the flexibility in macro-economic policy to continue the good work they've started," he asserted.

Mr. Barrow further stated that children waiting at the school gates should not be left out only because of the short-sightedness of global institutions.

He maintained that it is crucial that the IMF carries out the review on loan conditionalities in poor countries that have been promised by Dominique Straus Kahn, positing that richer countries should insist that the new mandate and lease of life they have given to the IMF is accompanied by a real commitment to reform the institution.

According to him, they at Jolly Riders believe that education is the key to social justice, economic independence and total liberation to freedom. This, he added, was what made them to create an educational centre in The Gambia.