By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
The Gambia College Students Union (GCSU) on Wednesday 30th March, 2016, held a colourful welcoming ceremony for their Senegalese counterparts from the Science, Technological and Educational Training Faculty (FASTEF) of Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal. In an occasion that took place at the College School of Nursing and Midwifery in Banjul, the day created a platform for the two parties to share and interact on issues regarding the memorandum of understanding the two institutions signed in 2014.
In his opening remarks, the former Secretary General of the SCGU, Mr. Lamin Marrong, said the day is very important as it saw the continuation of the agreement the two parties had two years ago. He added that the reception accorded to the Senegalese students is in recognition of the M.O.U signed by the two institutions. Marrong charged that if the students of tertiary education in Africa work together, then the dreams of a united Africa are achievable.
The College Vice Principal and Head of the School of Education, Mrs. Isatou Ndow, welcomed the guests, noting that the two countries share a lot of things in common. She said the Gambia is a home to Senegalese and that despite the recent border closure, the relationship between the people of the two countries is cordial. While thanking the pioneers of the partnership for initiating such a valuable project the college’s second in command said they as administrators value the partnership and hoped that it will achieve all its objectives.
The Principal of the Gambia College, Mr. Jallow, said the Gambia and Senegal are like a body that cannot be separated. He added that both countries share the same cultures and family members. He said the college comprises four schools; School of Education, Agriculture, Public and Environmental Health and the school of Nursing. The college, he added, is established before the country gained independence and that it has gripped its position as a center of excellence in the education sector of The Gambia. While expressing sorry to the Senegalese delegation for the obstacles they have encountered on the journey as a results of the border closure, the college No. 1 welcomed the visiting team and thanked the pioneers of the link for the initiative.
The President of FASTEF Students Union, Mr. Matarr Jobe, thanked the college for the warm welcome and the outstanding hospitality they received since their arrival. While extending the felicitations of the leadership of Cheikh Anta Diop University in Senegal, Mr. Jobe said the mutual agreement is geared towards a win-win encounter. He added that it will not just stop at exchange visits of students but also in enrollment of students of the college to complete their higher education at the university and also for their students to come to the college for researches and discovery purposes. He argued that they are not in the Gambia as tourists but as representatives of the students who have the objective of working collectively with the executive members of the GCSU in fully realising the resolutions of the memorandum of understanding their predecessors signed two years ago.
According to him, Cheikh Anta Diop University is one of the oldest universities built in West Africa and that it has schooled a lot of African dignitaries including former African heads of State. He finally reaffirmed that the agreement is pivotal and that its significance cannot be over-stated.
Momodou Saidou Jallow, the former Education Minister of the GCSU, expatiated the brief history of the M.O.U. He said the seed of this integration was planted in 2014 during their tenure when he was serving as the education minister. He said the agreement was part of the union’s action plan and that they are glad that the initiative is continuing to bring an indelible fruition. He thanked all those who stood firm to ensure the progress of the agreement which is aimed at fostering the already existing relationship between not just the two unions but the learning institutions and the nations at large.
In giving the vote of thanks, the President of the GCSU, Mr. Yunusa Jallow, said Gambia and Senegal are countries of the same culture. While expressing delight with the trend of the memorandum, Mr. Jallow, said a daunting challenge lies ahead of the two unions as some provisions of the M.O.U are not yet attained.
The ceremony was ably chaired by Mr. Cheikh Omar Sillah, the 2014 Secretary General of the GCSU, who is now an Associate Lecturer at the Gambia College School of Public and Environmental Health.