National Education Policy 2016-30 Finalisation Conference Underway

By MUHAMMED SAILU BAH
The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) and stakeholdersNational Education Policy 2016-30
have started a five day conference to finalise the National Education
Policy for the Year 2016-2030. commencing on Monday, 12 October 2015
at the Penchami Hall of Paradise Suites Hotel, the conference had
drawn participants such as representatives from different governmentministries, civil society, students, National Assembly Members,
regional governors, local government officials, the UN agencies,
ambassadors from various countries, the media, among others.
According to organisers, the current National Education Policy
(2004-2015) has been implemented and is approaching the end of its
life span in December and therefore the education sector has set in
motion the preparation of a successor policy for the period 2016-2030.
The theme is “Accessible, Equitable & Inclusive Quality Education For
Sustainable Development”.
In her opening statement, FatouLamin Faye, the Minister of Basic and
Secondary Education, expressed her profound gratitude to deliver the
keynote address of this historic event.
She said the aim is to bring together different stakeholders in the
education sector to discuss and map out the direction in which
education in the Gambia should move in the next 15 years i.e. 2016 to
2030.
“You will all recall that immediately after attaining independence in
1965, the 1965 to 1975 Education policy was succeeded by the 1976
Education Policy which was introduced and was succeeded by the 1976 to
1986 Education Policy. For those following the development of
education in the Gambia since then, you will also recall both of these
policies were aimed at continuing the colonial legacies and
dispensation to such an extent that the prescribed content had minimal
relevance to what average Gambian child needed to live a meaningful
life in the Gambia,” said Minister Faye.
Madam Faye added that it is generally accepted that a very little or
no consultation was made to solicit the views and aspirations of the
Gambia on what education should aim at doing in the Gambia for the
benefit of the Gambia and Gambians in General.
Madam Faye disclosed that the first National Conference on Education
was held in 1987 in the Gambia which, she said, was described by many
as highly consultative and participatory.
“We are gathered here for the next five days to participate in the
development of our next education policy. While this may be the last
opportunity for some of us to contribute to such a development process
during our active service, for others it will be their responsibility
to preside over the implementation of the policy that would be the
outcome of this coming together. In that regard, we cannot afford to
be complacent in our efforts to address the bottlenecks facing our
education system,” said the basic and secondary education minister.
Speaking on the occasion, Dr. AboubacarSenghore, the Minster of Higher
Education, Research, Science and Technology (MoHERST), underscored the
importance of the conference, adding that it is universally accepted
that education is a catalyst to sustainable socio economic development
and a vehicle for economic growth and employment.
He said success was registered in the education sector during the
implementation of the 2004-2015 Education policy which he said “are
quite visible and worthy of commendation and emulation by other
sectors.”
Dr. Senghore said these successes can be attributed to a host of
factors key among which are effective leadership and sound sector
management strategies.
“The decentralisation of education management and services, provision
of adequate and appropriate physical infrastructure, equipment and
relevant teaching learning materials, provision of incentives for
teachers serving in hard-to-reach areas, provision of staff quarters
in remote areas where recommendation for teachers used to be a
perennial problem and most importantly the capacity building of staff
have also contributed significantly to the gains registered in the
sector,” said the higher education minister.
Speaking on behalf of the UNICIEF Representatives, Rupert James
Leighton, the Deputy Representative UNICIEF, said “as we gathered here
this week under the auspices of the National Conference on Education
to set the education agenda for the next 15 years to 2030, at the
global level the world leaders have agreed and committed to the
Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) which form the global development
agenda that would replace the Millennium Development Goals (MDG).”
Mr. Leighton said the MDGs and the Gambia’s Education Policy 2000-2015
were both formulated at a time when inequalities in education were
acute and barriers to education were multiple.
In addition, he said, Girls enrolment at the time was far lower than
boys at all levels of education as well as access to Early Childhood
Development (ECD) was limited to just a handful of privileged
children, learning spaces and materials were grossly inadequate and
very few children, especially in public schools, could meet grade
level learning targets.
The deputy UNICEF Rep said there were little investments in education,
and a lot of teachers were not trained but added that the trends
change over the years as certain achievements are registered in the
Education sector.
He commended the government of the Gambia and MoBSE for maintaining
their focus on their primary role of working for quality and relevant
education for the children and adolescents.
“Despite the educational and long term social and economic values of
investing in ECD, more than 50 per cent of children in The Gambia are
not accessing the service. ECD facilitator capacities and the
parenting education programmes are not strong enough yet to provide a
continuity services and care between the home and the ECD centres,” he
said.
The MoBSE Permanent Secretary, Mr. BaboucarrBuoye, who chaired the
opening, stressed the importance for participants to fully participate
in the National conference to finalise the draft policy objectives and
pronouncements for execution from 2016 to 2030.