Gambians who witnessed the eras of the country’s first and second republics have spoken to the Daily Observer on the gigantic developments that Gambian students are today enjoying in the education sector, describing the huge developments as giant leaps.
They said the opportunities that are made available in the education sector today were nonexistent before the advent of the July 22nd Revolution.
The gains recorded in the education sector (both English and Madrasa schools) in President Jammeh’s 22-year stewardship cannot be compared to the First Republic, making reference to the increased construction of schools, opportunities for teachers, establishment of the University of The Gambia and the provision of both national and international scholarship packages.
Here are the views of some of those we spoke to
Modou Manneh – Brikama
Gambia’s education sector’s system and development during the First Republic cannot be compared to that of the Second Republic. Before the advent of the July 22nd Revolution, many of my colleagues and I used to trek several kilometers to attend school.
During those days, there were few learning materials and limited opportunities available compared to now. We used to go to school by foot, carrying our own chairs and tables to and from school. Now students don’t have to worry about food or lunch from their parents because the school feeding programme takes care of that.
Today, there are schools everywhere and students don’t have to travel for long distance to attend school.
Yusupha Bojang – Teacher
Before 1994, there were few schools in the country especially in the countryside. When the July 22nd Revolution came into being, children walk less than a kilometer to attend school. Gambian students now have access to free education, thereby easing the burden on their parents. Before the Second Republic, most of the teachers found accommodation hard. In contrast today, there are quarters for teachers in almost every school. I will urge students to make best use of the opportunities put at their disposal by the Jammeh administration.
Saikou Ceesay – Journalist
You cannot compare the educational system in the pre-1994 era to what prevails now. Then, we had only two high schools and these schools were only accessible to sons and daughters of the elite and few in the government circle. That was not a good system at all because it deprived thousands of Gambians education who could have been instrumental in the development endevaours of this great country.
Of course, it was designed to suit those in power. Education at the time was not productive in this country as we have today. Today our graduates from the Law School are serving as magistrates and lawyers. Look at the health sector, we graduate doctors every year. The same thing is happening in all the sectors. This is what we call development. You develop brains to be able to effectively take charge of their country’s destiny and that is exactly what is happening. The President deserves a Nobel Prize for salvaging and taking this country to where it is. Happy July 22 anniversary to the President, the First Family and Gambians at large.
Momodou Bah – Sintet
In terms of education, the Second Republic made giant strides and took a more robust approach towards providing access to education even in rural Gambia. The school attendance rate has greatly increased, thereby bringing down the illiteracy rate. Also, women and girls are empowered, encouraged and supported as can be seen in the numerous programmes and projects targeting women and girls.
Personally, I never trekked distances to attend primary school because my village Sintet had one even before independence. However, after completing my primary school, some of us had to come to the Kombos for secondary and high school education. The government of the day built the first secondary school in Kalagi in 1996. As a result of that, we were asked to come back having already secured enrollment in schools in the Kombos. That decision saw us become the first and second batches of students in Kalagi.
by Amadou Jallow