As part of its ongoing public consultations, The Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) recently held a consultative session with students of Gambia Senior Secondary School, at the school premises in Banjul.
The meeting was part of the CRC's 'Meet the Students' School tour, which began at Nusrat Senior Secondary School last Saturday.
The nationwide School engagement aims to ensure students' active participation in the Constitutional Review Process.
In his welcome remarks, Kebba Saidykhan, Senior Teacher at the School, commended the CRC for choosing Gambia Senior Secondary School while renewing the commitment of his School towards the process of reviewing the 1997 Constitution.
He said the information the CRC is providing would be essential for the students and would give them the opportunity to contribute towards the drafting of the new Constitution.
While describing the review process of the 1997 Constitution as 'historic', Saidykhan noted that the current Constitution has several amendments and in his view, it no longer represents the verdict of the Gambian people.
Justice Cherno Sulayman Jallow, the Chairperson of the CRC on his part, express the importance that of students' involvement in the process of designing and developing the new Constitution.
"It is in your hands that this new Constitution that we have been tasked to develop, will eventually rest. So you will have the responsibility in the future to make sure that you have a Constitution that you will not only implement, but will understand and appreciate," he told students.
Justice Jallow continued to explain that the Constitution is the basic law of any given country from which all other laws take their root. "It is important that students know the value of the Constitution as it touches on their lives," he said.
He urged them to participate in the process and not to underrate their contributions in it.
"This is a historic moment for all of us and it is a one lifetime opportunity for most of us," Justice Jallow acknowledged, saying their wish is to write a Constitution that will stand the test of time.
"By the time we write this constitution and hand it over to Government, some of you would have turn 18 and by the time the next election comes around, some of you would be at that age when you will be eligible to vote," the CRC Chair told the students.
He said the Commission came to the School to seek the opinion of the students on Constitutional issues that matter to them and the future generation of Gambians.
"Do not think the ideas are small; do not think that you are not part of the process. If you are truly a Gambian, be part of the process," he reiterated.
Justice Jallow informed students that the Commission published the 'Issues Document' that consisted of some Constitutional issues. He advised them to familiarize themselves with the document and be part of the review conversation.
CRC Head of Media and Communications Sainey Marenah, said the Constitutional Review Commission (CRC) was established by an Act of Parliament to review the current Constitution and draft a new one; that the Commission envisages a Constitution that would take care of the collective interest of all Gambians.
Isatou Conteh, CRC Executive Assistant tasked students particularly girls, to actively participate in the review process and ensure that the new constitution empowers them. He enjoined them to read the Constitution and make their contributions.
The event was later characterized by questions and contributions from students. Some of the issues the students raised included presidential term limits, the duration of the electoral cycle, the death penalty, youth empowerment and educational requirements and qualifications for the president, ministers and parliamentarians, amongst others.
The Chairperson of the CRC later presented copies of the 1997 Constitution, Issues Documents and booklets containing the frequently asked questions on the work and mandate of the CRC.