Oct 6, 2020, 11:15 AM
Essa Sowe, deputy general secretary, The Gambia Teachers Union (GTU) has warned that a potential academic crisis is looming in The Gambia if no action is taken.
According to UNICEF, one of the biggest disruptions caused by the COVID-19 is the closure of schools, saying schools everywhere had been closed and children were missing out on important classroom lessons. According to their report, to support the continuity of learning while schools were closed, they worked with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and other education partners to provide large-scale and inclusive distance learning for students across the country.
“We also invested in and prioritised internet connectivity – radio coverage in rural and underserved areas, ensured protective services provided at schools continue at home and invest in skilling frontline education and social service workers, and businesses to support parents,” UNICEF report revealed.
Momodou S. Janneh, Human Resource Manager of GTTI, explained that GTTI is a TVET institution that was established through an act of parliament in 1981 but started operations in 1983.
“Since the inception of the pandemic, there was a lockdown in March and as a result, our staff were asked to stay at home. That brought a lot of challenges to the institution and we were not able to operate as before. We have a production section here that produces for the market and because of the lockdown, there was no production activity.”
Mr. Janneh further stated that even though they were paying the staff and there was no reduction in their salaries, they had challenges due to the lack of production. Janneh reiterated that the products help a lot in complementing their budget.
He continued that they have subvention from the government but that is not enough, so they mostly depend on productions activities, adding that they have contracts with IEC on the making of the ballot boxes, Kanifing General Hospital in manufacturing hospital beds and agriculture in making farming implements.
Dwelling on the financial impact on the students, he said most of the students are sponsored by their parents and some of those parents were asked to sit at home by their respective workplaces due to the lockdown.
“Taking care of the family became a problem to some and talkless of paying school fees of the children. Some sponsors also have problems due to the covid-19, and as a result, some of the students lost their scholarship.”
With regard to the learning process, Mr. Janneh added that it affects the learning system because the pandemic forced them to adopt a new method of learning, which is online lecturing.
“This is the first time and it has a lot of challenging issues but we thank the Ministry of Education for providing us with one million dalasis to facilitate the lectures easily. There are challenges about the online classes because both teachers and students were new to it; as a result, we could not have the online classes as effectively as we wanted. Some had network problems and others faced difficulties in joining the classes.”
Rashida Sambou, an automotive student, told this medium that the pandemic has negatively impacted them in their education because lecture hours were reduced due to the rise in cases of covid-19.
“Wearing facemark is difficult because we are not used to it and traffic is another challenging issue. Getting a car to reach our school was always a big challenge. Financially, it really disturbed me because I lost my father and my mother takes care of my fees. Thank God she paid my level one and half of my level. Business is low and there is no such source of income.”
Modou Bah, a student of Electrical Installation, emphasised that he is following the Covid-19 guidelines in order to protect people around him.
Dwelling on the impact Covid-19 has on him, he said it disturbs his education, adding his parents have been sitting at home without work. Mr. Bah said it is a challenge to get fares to school because his parents made it clear to him that they are not working due to the pandemic.
“I understand them and learn to live with it. We want the government to help us with Bus because students come from very far places and we sometimes reach late.”
Ebrima Lowe, a student of JSQ Automotive level 2, explained that he got admitted in the school not long but the pandemic impacted his education.
“My workplace closed for a long time because income was not coming like before. My boss reduces our salaries at some point because of the pandemic and we understand him for that.”
This story was produced with support from Journalists for Human Rights (JHR), through its Mobilizing Media in the Fight Against Covid-19 in partnership with Mai-Media and The Point Newspaper.
The Gambia Democratic Congress (GDC), says in a press release that it is deeply concerned about the myriad of credible reports about the world’s deadliest illicit drugs gaining inflow into The Gambia. Also worrisome is the growing spate of internal criminal activities such as murder, burglary/robbery with arms among others.
The Ministry of Gender, Children and Social Welfare is gearing-up to establish special court for domestic violence as the fight against Female Genital Mutilation/Cutting (FGM/C) and Gender Based Violence among other negative issues affecting women and girls intensifies in the country