By Awa B. Bah
The Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Badara A. Joof, has made a pre-announcement of six hundred and eighty scholarships for Gambians to study in Nigerian, Sudan and Morrocan universities. Mr. Joof made this disclosure in his address at the opening of a three day sector retreat for the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology MoHERST.
Mr. Joof said he made a scholarship request while in Ghana attending the association of African universities, requesting for scholarships in Gambia from Nigerian, Sudanese and Moroccan universities.
“Given the demolition of capacities in the past dispensation, capacity gaps to train our people particularly at the level of tertiary education institutions is critical to the masses of people in the sciences, engineering, cyber security, agriculture, aquaculture and others,” he noted. “They replied to say that they have offered us scholarships and fifty of them will be in the Masters and PHD levels, which will be given to the UTG, Gambia College, GTTI, MDI and NAQAA,” he added.
The scholarships, he revealed, entail tuition fees and accommodation while government’s contributions will be in pocket money for students. This development he said, will be tabled before cabinet for approval.
He said emphasis is given to agriculture, petroleum engineering, information technology, cyber security, marine biology, and journalism.
Mr. Joof noted that the ministry will authenticate certificates in collaboration with WAEC and endorsed by the ministry for foreign affairs after which it will be sent to the high commission in Senegal for onward transmission to the Sudanese Universities.
He said there are some challenges faced with Sudanese scholarships but that they have asked the Sudanese government to waive this up.
The Morocco scholarship he said also has some challenges because government is renting a flat in Morocco and there is a difference in payment for those living within and outside the flat. He revealed that they have engaged the Moroccan government to look into this to see how best government can take over the flat because the national budget cannot accommodate them as at now; that the Gambia has one hundred students in Morocco.
The minister also announced that the Gambia has received scholarship awards through the UTG from Indonesia, Pakistan, the IOC and the University of Medina.
He expressed concern as to whether the Gambia will be able to present the number of students required for the scholarships, as most students are focused on the social sciences.
He remarked, “We cannot water down quality, because in everyday life, Mathematics is key. At the end, it will be the decision of the universities concerned and not his ministry”.