There is claim that free education shall be guaranteed. It is of course a constitutional requirement for basic education to be free and compulsory.
Approximately, there are currently 257,000 children in our Lower Basic Schools, 84,000 children in our upper Basic Schools and 45,000 students in the Senior Secondary Schools. Many schools are private schools because government cannot cater for all the pupils and students. What does free education constitute and who would benefit and how. These questions will open up for debate.
The Government has imposed a national Education Levy and all registered companies are required to pay 30,000 dalasis annually as National Educational levy.
In 2012 , twenty three Million dalasis was collected as National Educational levy. In 2013 , twenty one Million was collected and 23 Million is anticipated.
Does free education mean such non payment of school fees or does it include provision of books and other educational necessities? Will it lead to the extension of public schools to host all pupils and students who wish to be enrolled? All stakeholders need to be engaged to get to the truth. It is very clear that books, uniforms, bags , shoes, fares , lunch, study fees, exam fees and many other costs related to education have been escalating beyond the capacity of poor and middle class parents to shoulder. The declaration of the state on the subject of free education has now opened the debate on the true state of education in the Gambia.