#Article (Archive)

We Must Continue to Work for the Good of Our Children

May 26, 2008, 7:30 AM

Many people in The Gambia must be deeply shocked at the recent statement from the UNICEF Country Representative in The Gambia, Mrs Min Whee Kang, that some 121 million children in the world today never see the inside of a classroom. They are being deprived of their fundamental right to education; they are deprived of having wonderful teachers and mentors, and the vast majority of these out-of-school children are girls. For those who have worked tirelessly in these areas the news will be depressing to say the least.

Mrs Whee Kang made her remarks at the13th annual Speech and Prize Giving ceremony of Gambia Methodist Academy held on 16th May, 2008. "Here in The Gambia," she said, "at primary school level, although gender parity or the ratio of girls to boys in primary education has been attained with 109 girls, attending primary school for every 100 boys. Net enrolment rate at primary school is 78% while net attendance rate is 61%. At the secondary school level, net enrolment rate is 45% and net attendance rate is 37%," she disclosed. At current rate, NER is projected to be of 80% by 2015.

This is a clear indicator to all of us that there is still an enormous amount of work to be done in this area. 2015 is a very important date because it is when the world is hoping to have achieved the Millennium Development Goals. It will not only be deeply disappointing and disheartening if the goals are not reached but it will also mean in reality that there are still children out there who are not being given their fundamental rights. This situation is simply unacceptable.

Mrs Whee Kang made reference to a foreword to the State of the World's Children Report in 2004 by the then United Nations Secretary General, Mr. Kofi Annan, which partly reads: "To educate a girl is to educate the whole family. And what is true of families is also true of communities and ultimately, whole countries." These are very wise words and we must all keep them close to our minds in the coming years as we work to reduce the remaining educational deficit in The Gambia. The next generation needs us to work tirelessly for them to receive their basic rights and we must not let them down.