President Adama Barrow on Tuesday, December 18, 2018, laid the foundation stone for a new teacher training college in Basse, Upper River Region. This project, once complete and operational, is expected to address the challenges of teacher access, quality and equity in rural Gambia.
In addressing the ceremony, President Adama Barrow argued that teacher education and training; teacher quality and performance, and teacher supply and management form the bases for a sound education policy. These also contribute to ensuring that high standards and results are maintained in the system.
"We recognise that both [the basic, secondary, tertiary and higher education] sub-sectors must operate effectively and efficiently, and must reach their policy targets, in order to develop the desired human capital of the country," he said.
The project is funded by the MRC Holland Foundation to serve as an extension for the main teacher training college in Brikama, West Coast Region. With this intervention, the foundation's efforts to support government in delivering education to every Gambian will reach 1,000 classrooms across the country.
For this, President Barrow thanked the foundation and their Gambian representative, Mrs. Hendretta Sonko for generously undertaking to construct the physical structures for this project. He said it is important that adequate quality teachers are trained and provided for all schools in the country. "This makes this project very important," he added.
The new college will ensure that students from these regions will no longer to relocate to the cities for college education and training. It will enable regional education directors to tap from a fresh pool of trained and qualified teachers, against having to do with unqualified ones teaching kids in schools. It will also enable youths to stay in rural Gambia instead of migration to the cities, the Gambia College Principal, Mr. Bubacarr Jallow explained.
For far too long, interested candidates and teacher trainees have had to travel to Greater Banjul Area for training. The qualified teachers from rural Gambia also continue to lobby to stay and teach in the urban areas at the expense of the rural schools.
"The imbalance between schools in the rural and urban areas is too striking. This has far reaching implications on the education of the rural child, in terms of quality and equity," President Barrow lamented.
He said for the purpose of providing quality education for all, it is important that qualified teachers are distributed equitably so that no part of the country is underserved.
"It is my belief and hope that when the extension campus becomes functional, the target group of teacher trainees, especially those from Central River and Upper River regions, will choose to stay in these areas after their training," President Barrow said. "This will significantly enhance quality education and improve student performance throughout the country," he added.