Babucarr Suwareh, the Regional Education Director for Region Two, has challenged Gambian teachers to compose and sing The Gambia National Anthem in the local languages.
He noted that they have been singing the National Anthemin English for 42 years and it is time that they start singing it in the local languages so that those who do not understand English can also be able to sing it.
Suwareh made these remarks during a recent training organised by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) through the support of ECCO International on the revival of the teaching of drama, music education and cultural studies held in Region Two Education Directorate Office in Brikama, West Coast Region.
He underlined the importance of music education, cultural studies and drama, calling for more awareness of their role in national development. "Now is the right time to start reviving our culture," said Suwareh, while commending the Gambia College for taking the right steps to re-introduce the teaching and learning of music education and cultural studies.
For her part, Ms. Isatou Ndow, head of the School of Education at the Gambia College, said that schools and teachers are highly valued by society and should play a responsible role in shaping society. She said that music can be used to teach the most difficult subjects especially Mathematics and English, adding that when encouraged to participate in competitions, children can learn to be self-confident as well as acquire intelligence and discipline.
She told the teachers that they should not wait until there are competitions before they start training students to perform music, adding that it should be part of their everyday teaching and learning activities. She expressed her willingness to work with all stakeholders including MoBSE to revive the teaching of music and cultural studies at College level.
Mam Tamsir Njai, the principal education officer and the head of School Broadcasting Unit at MoBSE, urged the teachers to be innovative. "The topic of the training should serve as food for thought for all those who are concerned with cultural revival," he said.
Mbye Chow also urged the participants to uphold cultural values that promote honesty, humanity and conscience, quickly adding that culture is dynamic. "Traditional values differ, but they interpret each other. Every 30 years a new generation is born and they have the right to create a new tradition," he said.
He underscored the role of schools in promoting cultural values, saying that the school should provide the environment for the appreciation of culture. "But this can only be possible when there is discipline. There is need for change in the way culture is seen and change starts from individuals," he noted.
Chow also emphasised the fact that the teaching of culture must be based on the interest of children. "Children are very creative and culture should be used to expose their creativity. The art of storytelling was the form of education in pre-colonial times," he stated.
He said culture is divided into performing arts and monuments and relics, noting that entertainment has no boundaries. He expressed belief that Gambian culture encourages caring and sharing and promotes independence through hard work.
He further encouraged Gambians to be proud to speak their local languages, stressing that Gambians are creative but do not always like to exploit their talents. "Rights and responsibilities should be interpreted inline with Gambian culture," he concluded.