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Who pays the price?

Nov 17, 2014, 10:17 AM

The immediate closure of Brikama Methodist Upper Basic and Senior Secondary School and Longman Memorial Lower Basic School by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education is indeed a cause for concern.

The two institutions were closed for “failing to comply with regulations in allowing the teaching of Islamic Education in the schools.”

We are aware that these schools were established or owned by missionaries whose teachings are different from Islamic doctrines, hence their respective managements’ failure to comply with National Education Regulations.

The Constitution of The Gambia, which is the supreme law of the land, states that the country is a secular state.

This means the state should be officially neutral in matters of religion.It also means there is nothing like a state religion.

However, the concern here is that it is just few months away for the grade nine and twelve students to sit to their final examinations.

This examination is crucial, and it is also the period students need serious concentration on their studies to be able to earn good results and make it to the next level.

By this new development, students from these schools will be stranded at home indefinitely as they and their parents wait in limbo to see what the future holds as regards the fate of the students concerned.

According to the information shared with us, the managements of these schools were repeatedly warned by the ministry to comply, but they failed to pay heed.

So it could be said what actually led to the closure of the schools was the failure of their managements to permit the teaching of Islamic studies.

This regulation has been around for long. Some of us went to Catholic schools and had the benefit of being taught our religion, despite the fact that the schools were largely financed by Catholic Missions.

We hope and pray that a compromise is reached, so that the good learning environment that was being provided by these schools is brought back to the doorsteps of students of these schools and communities.

The ministry cares about the children’s Islamic education so much so that it closed down the schools for their failure to comply, but we have no evidence that states that provision have been made for the affected students to continue their education unhindered.

Efforts should be made, rather, to place these innocent children in other schools to continue their education until a viable and permanent solution is reached between the ministry and the school administrations.

There should be full and immediate commitment from the schools and the ministry to get the schools back on their feet in the interest of the innocent students caught up in the crossfire.

“The only person who is educated is the one who has learned how to learn and change.”

Carl Rogers