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MoBSE under-fire over D30M arrears owed to Gambia College

Jul 2, 2021, 1:20 PM | Article By: Momodou Jawo  

The Gambia College students protest which was scheduled for Monday 5 July 2021 has been postponed, after the school authorities and students’ union reached a consensus.

However, the school management has warned that no student will be given an attestation if the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) fails to settle the over D30 million student fees the ministry owes the college.

The Gambia College students wanted to protest amid internet connection issues, missing grades and clearance among others. Some students, who also paid tuition fees in advance and later got scholarships from either the Ministry of High Education or MoBSE, are demanding refunds of their monies.

Aboubacarr Jallow, principal, Gambia College, who spoke to The Point in an interview said: “I want to make it clear that all those students whose sponsorships have been paid by their sponsors got their monies refunded. However, the majority of the students who fall under the MoBSE sponsorship are not refunded and will not be refunded until their sponsors pay.”

“Some of the students who are even claiming to be refunded their monies are in their third year and they only paid D5000 or D6000. I am using the tuition fees of others for them to be in class and now they want me to give them the D5000 that they paid when their sponsors didn’t pay. I am not going to do that. I can tell you that the students will not even get their attestation if their sponsors don’t pay. We will allow them to sit their exams but they will not get attestation from the school.”

“When I enquired about the missing grades from the school management, I was told that the way the grades were submitted was not friendly to the system. However, I instructed them to make sure they release the rough grades with a view to enable the students see what they got.”

Commenting on the issue of the internet connection, Mr. Jallow added: “Only the first year students are supposed to pay D1000 for internet connection. However, the second and third year students are not part of the issue.”

A company, Jallow disclosed, has won a contract to do internet connection in the college: “The Company has already completed 80% of the infrastructure. In fact, what delayed the work is that one of the company staff who was key in the work got in an accident which delayed the work. I am quite sure that students will soon be enjoying uninterrupted internet connection.”

Amadou Camara, vice president of the students’ union, recalled that in May 2021, the students’ union engaged the four sub-unions within the college. “We did engage this sub-union and asked them to also engage the heads of department of various schools within the college with a view to enable them to publish the marks of students because it’s a requirement for students to know their marks at the end of every semester.”

As a union, he said, they want to ensure that the issue of grades becomes a thing of the past. Again, the biggest problem of these grades is within the School of Agriculture and Education.

“What we want now is to ensure that no student pay for internet connection in 2022 because they don’t enjoy anything this year and they already paid. We also agreed that clearance will not be a hindrance for students not to write their exam.”

Lamin Fatty, president of Student Teachers Association said: “We wanted to boycott the exam until our demands are met. However, now we are calling off the strike and that students are going to sit the exams.”

He maintained that transportation is one of the top challenges students of Gambia College encounter. He also claimed that the majority of the educational students are affected with regard to the missing grades.

Louis Moses Mendy, permanent secretary MoBSE added: “There are procedures to everything. However, the issue of the strike has nothing to do with the Ministry of Education. But the issue of the money, the college needs to engage us on that. There’s a way on how the two institutions relates. If the college thinks that we owe them, let them come and engage us. We asked them to train our teachers and we will pay them based on our agreement.”

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