Lawmakers last Monday unanimously considered and adopted the report of the Select Committee on Education, Training and ICT follow-up tour on the recommendations made to cluster schools to permanently allocate lands to schools for farming and other activities, from 2nd – 6th November 2015.
Tabling the motion, Hon. Kalipha Jammeh, the member for Bakau, said sequel to the tour by the Select Committee on Education, Training and ICT country-wide from January 26th – 5th February 2015, a sub-committee was tasked to revisit a few selected schools in each administrative region.
The visit, he went on, was meant to assess the level of implementation of the Committee’s recommendation that all schools be allocated farmland permanently to complement Government’s policy of Vision 2016 and pave the way for the on-going school feeding programme to be replaced with a robust home-grown one.
However, he indicated, schools which are not endowed with farmlands have been recommended to go into meaningful income generating activities such as maintaining and operating food canteens, sewing, poultry and aquaculture etc.
According to him, the essence of the recommendation is to formalise the lands allocated to schools for farming and other activities to complement Vision 2016 and that the duration of the tour was five days.
Hon. Jammeh revealed that the select sub-committee after the tour made the above findings: no school farmland has been documented; some schools have been allocated farmlands and await formalisation; some schools have gardens, but are yet to be allocated farmlands; virtually, mothers’ club members of some villages are very collaborative and committed in all farming activities; some schools are allocated unsuitable and infertile farmlands and the lack of community participation in school farms is due to people’s perception that school farming activities should be paid from the School Improvement Grants (SIG) funds.
He noted that the committee also recommended for School Management Committees (SMCs) to engage local authorities to fast track documentation of school farmlands; the school management committees to work with the chiefs and alkalolu to ensure that each school in their districts is allocated a suitable documented land; the select committee should engage agriculture projects to assist schools in the provision of inputs, farm implements and irrigation infrastructure.
Seconding the motion, Hon. Ousman Njie, the National Assembly Member for Sami, reported that none of the schools has implemented the recommendations,but acknowledged that some were on the verge of doing so.
He averred that all the school visited have similar challenges; such as lack of farm implements and garden tools, adequate water supply, storage and marketing facilities and fertiliser.
He indicated that some schools have even developed very good gardens.
by Aji Fatou Faal-Sonko