Gambia: Higher Education Minister Quizzed On Number of Skills Training Centers in Provinces

The Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Badara Joof has on Wednesday told Parliamentarians the only authorized Skills Training center in CRR, is located in Jangjanbureh.

He however said the center has ceased operation since the expiry of their license in 2017.

He disclosed this information after Deputies at the National Assembly asked him to shed light on the number of Skills Training centers currently available in the Central River Region (CRR) authorized by his Ministry to operate.

On how and who is to renew the expired license of the center, the Minister responded that his Ministry is the authority that renews the license upon application. He added for this particular center, no application was advanced for the renewal of their application because the center cannot get the number of the minimum required student population to operate. He said the center charged D2,000 per semester which cost was high, resulting to its closure.

On his Ministry's plans to take over the dorminant center, Joof responded that this is a private initiative; adding what they do is to provide diligence in writing to assess the accessibility and viability of the center, by putting into consideration the number of the student population and cost. He said his Ministry is trying to come up with a business plan with the private investors, because they see the need for it.

Minister Joof said Government has no skills training center in Janjanbureh. On his Ministry's plans to authorize the operations of those dominant skill centers that are not under his Ministry, Joof said his Ministry authorizes skill centers that come to them; that centers do not necessarily have to be under his Ministry to be authorized. He noted after receiving a request, his ministry only engages centers on the relevance of their operation.

The Minister said plans are being put in place for the placement of centers in the CRR, but hat this is resource driven. He added his Ministry is fully aware of the need of skill centers in CRR and URR north; saying those areas will be their first priority when resources are available.

In considering his Ministry's intervention in terms of completing the Ndeban multipurpose center, Minister Joof responded that it is on their desk; that he was in Ndeban with some donors and there is high hope that it will yield dividend.

On whether his Ministry would consider public/private partnerships in the establishment of skill centers, the Minister said they have a three prong approach to this. The Minister also said he has currently engaged stakeholders concerned on the GTTI center in Mansakonko, and they have visited the site to see the level of progress as the center is currently under rehabilitation by Germans who have invested in it.

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