The Islamic Educational Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO), in collaboration with the Gambia National Commission for UNESCO (NATCOM) on Thursday began a four-day camp of "Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Physics for Young Girls", at the Girl Guides Association in Kanifing, The camp brought together 30 participants from the secondary and tertiary institutions,aimed at promoting girls' education.
Speaking at the event, Hon. Fatou Lamin Faye, the minister of Basic and Secondary Education, deputising for the vice president,described the event as another leap taken to empower young girls to excel in Science, Mathematics and Physics. She opined that it is predicated on the firm belief that basic science and technology underpin the pursuit of knowledge that leads to increased levels of improvements in human conditions, sustainable development in general and the advancement of civilization. She posited: "Basic scientific knowledge forms the stable foundation on which all current and future technologies are built".
Minister Faye reminded that PresidentJammeh declared 2012 as the Year of Science, Technology and Innovation in The Gambia, indicating the president's proactiveness in the promotion and utilisation of science, technology and innovation for the country's rapid development. "His commitment to advance science, technology and innovation is demonstrated inter alia in the establishment of the University of The Gambia, the Kanilai Institute for Science and Technology and the overwhelming number of scholars that have been trained in-country and overseas," she stated.
She therefore enjoined all the girls participating in the camp to take full advantage of the initiative and demonstrate high sense of commitment in the programme.
In his opening remarks, Yahya Al-Matarr Jobe, the acting secretary general of The Gambia National Commission for UNESCO, said that none of them will dispute the fact that under-representation of girls and women in science marks a great loss of human potential. "It is therefore strategically important to engage and motivate young female scientists at all levels of the education system, because it has been demonstrated conclusively that the socio-economic development of a country is closely linked to the educational level of its female population," he remarked.
He said the camp for excellence will provide participants with an excellent opportunity to discuss girls' participation in the field of science, technology and innovation, in an attempt to redress the imbalance. This, Jobe went on, will enable the participants from the different educational levels and backgrounds to explore together the transformative potential of science, technology and innovation for improving girls' access to education, health and economic resource, in order to help them become active participants in developing their economy and society.
For his part, Dr. Mamadou Tangara, the minister of Higher Education Research Science and Technology (MOHERST), opined that science and technology are key to the development of a country. He therefore thanked President Jammeh for his support to girls in the education sector.
Deputising for Dr. Aicha Bammoun of ISESCO, PapaToumane Ndiaye, expressed confidence that the Camp would not only contribute towards promoting science education in young girls but also provide encouragement and inculcate in them confidence and build their character to have dignified position in society.
He disclosed that ISESCO has been organising such camps for more than 10 years now, and that such science camps have built interest ofgirls towards scientific career development and awareness of new technologies and changing innovation spheres, but that most importantly contributed towards developing character, courage and skills the young girls needed in the practical life.
Such camps, he added, create friendship, self esteem and learning to work with others, as well as develop leadership skills for projecting their positive contribution in building and shaping societies.