New UNESCO education project for Gambia
Thursday, April 24, 2008
Basic Education on Africa Programme (BEAP) a newly established project for Africa has now arrived in The Gambia, with UNESCO taking the lead in the implementation of the project. The Gambia, Rwanda and Ethiopia are choosen as pilot countries of the project.
The project (BEAP) has identified three areas of immediate attention, namely; Education, Curriculum Policy and Framework, Entrepreneurship Education and Competencies and Skills Development.
It was to this effect that UNESCO, together with The Gambia National Commission for UNESCO, organised a stakeholders conference at the Jerma Beach Hotel from 22nd - 23rd April, 2008, in order to define The Gambia's framework under the Basic Education in Africa programme.
In her welcoming remarks, Sukai Bojang, Secretary General of The Gambia National Commission (NATCOM) said it is pleasing to know that The Gambia is the first pilot country for the Basic Education Africa Programme (BEAP).
She expressed hoped that the stakeholders conference will make a lot of progress, so that Rwanda and Ethiopia will find things easy.
The NATCOM Secretary General also thanked their friends and partners for honouring their invitations.
For his part, Crispin Grey Johnson, Secretary of State for Higher Education, Research Science and Technology, expressed delight that such an important project has come to The Gambia, adding that this country really stands to benefit from this project if it is taken seriously.
"This is a project that speaks to the problems of quality and of relevance in education," he noted.
SoS Grey Johnson described quality and relevance education as two areas that have escaped policy makers, planners and practitioners for decades, adding that they have not been able to handle the problems of quality and of relevance in African education.
SoS Grey Johnson also urged the stakeholders to look at the Vision 2020 and Silicon Valley Projects during their deliberations.
Ann-Therese Ndong-Jatta, director of Basic Education - UNESCO in Paris, France said the BEAP project is the strategy for the implementation of the Kigali call for Action which was the result of the Regional Workshop on basic education held in 2007 in Kigali, Rwanda.
"The Kigali workshop addressed the issue of the ailing and outmoded system of education in Africa which has ceased to adequately meet the learning needs of students, communities and the continent as a whole," she revealed.
The focus of the Kigali meeting was centred on the question of what type of basic education and the purpose of education in Africa. Based on the general agreement that the present education is fragmented and structured on a school model which has outlived its usefulness and failing the bulk of its usefulness and failing the bulk of its student population. There was a call for reform and action, she noted.
In declaring the workshop open, Fatou Lamin Faye, Secretary of State for Basic and Secondary Education, said in our National Education Policy, 2004 - 2015, basic education has been defined as comprising early childhood development, nine years of schooling, (Grade 1-9), as well as adult and non-formal education.
"We are committed to seeing the gross enrolment ratio at early childhood development centres increased by fifty percent by the end of the plan," revealed.
However, SoS Faye went on, the basic education sector still faces the challenge of providing the children with an education that equips them with the skills that are required in the world of work.
""Cognisant of these challenges, we have been periodically reviewing progress in service delivery and how far we have gone in meeting the six education for All Goals", she noted.
She thanked UNESCO and its partners for making The Gambia a pilot country for BEAP and expressed deep appreciation to their partners both in The Gambia and outside for being by their side in their drive to provide efficient and effective services to our people.
Other speakers include Mr Vitalie Muntean, UNDP Resident Representative in The Gambia, Vidgis Cristofoli, Education Specialist, UNICEF WCARO and Judicial Etienne Porgo, Lead Education Officer, African Development Bank.
Author: by Assan Sallah