Statement by the Minister of Basic and Secondary Education on the reopening of schools

Jun 22, 2020, 1:22 PM

Fellow Gambians, it is indeed an honour as the Minister for Basic and Secondary Education to come out and inform you of the developments on the re-opening of schools after months of total closure due to the Corona Virus pandemic commonly known as COVID-19.
Everyone would agree with me that the pandemic has brought a lot of trauma and uncertainty to all of us either as individuals, a sector, nation, or a world. This is so because it has affected every sector of our society especially the Education sector. In Gambia for example, it has directly affected about 674,300 children in Conventional and recognized Madrassahs schools from Early Childhood Development to Senior Secondary School, and resulting to an estimated loss of 265 instructional hours during the last 87 days of school closure thus seriously threatening the achievement of the annual target of 880 hours of instruction.

However, you would recall that some two weeks ago, the Government of the Gambia decided to relax the State of Emergency restrictions to open and extend businesses operations, and reopening of schools. It was from that time, that my Ministry started consultations with the Ministry of Health, key Education partners such as: The Gambia Teachers’ Union, Conference of Principals, Association of Lower Basic School Heads (ALBASH), World Bank, UNICEF, UNESCO, NATCOM, Parents, and the Media fraternity to map the way forward in respect to safe reopening of schools. This is in response to the concern of parents, students and even teachers as to when schools would be reopening as many instructional hours have been lost since the abrupt closure in March, 2020 and if nothing is done, more hours would continue to be lost.

However, the outcome of the consultations with stakeholders, has clearly indicated that there is need to open schools as further delay or the non-opening of schools has far fetching consequences on both the education sector and the country.
Based on that, and the shown commitment and cooperation of stakeholders in ensuring that there is safe reopening of our schools across the country, I wish to humbly indicate that the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education(MoBSE) is now ready to re-open schools in phases beginning with the Grade nine students first and subsequently the 12s.

Fellow Gambians, in light of the above I hereby have the singular honour to inform all school authorities, staff, parents and students in particular, and the general public that the re-opening of schools for the Grade 9 Students is scheduled for Wednesday, 24TH June, 2020, and that of grade 12s would be announced in due course. As such, all the other categories of students are urged to stay at home until further notice.

In keeping with the WHO health and safety measures, and our Ministry of Health guidelines, we would be closely working with our various Regional Education Directorates to ensure compliance on the social distancing and availability of COVID-19 essentials such as; sanitizers, thermometers, face masks, sanitary materials and water points in addition to continuous cleaning of schools and fumigation.
In Conclusion, I would like to call on all, to partner and support with my Ministry in whatever way in ensuring safe teaching and learning.
May God Almighty continue to guide and protect us all and put an end to the COVID-19.
God bless The Gambia! Amen
Thank You!