President Adama Barrow on Saturday laid the foundation stone for the construction of three faculty blocks of the Gambia University of Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology in Brikama, West Coast region
Delivering his statement, President Barrow stated that the event is high profile on the Government's educational transformation agenda of providing quality and relevant tertiary and higher education to Gambians.
"In the past, only a selected few had access to higher education; however, through the National Qualifications Framework, the education system now provides pathways that allow students from Grade Nine to choose careers in Technical Vocational Education and Training (TVET) and other educational programmes. Expanding such opportunities has made it necessary to establish a university system in the Applied Sciences, Engineering and Technology, hence the significance of the occasion."
From now on, he said students who choose to become engineers and architects can proceed beyond the Higher National Diploma (HND) level to pursue degree programmes in Engineering and related disciplines at USET.
He thanked the World Bank for the foresight of designing a programme linked to the Africa Centre of Excellence (ACE) initiative to positively influence development. He added that the reality is that Africa must depend on its institutions to develop its human resource and stimulate economic growth and development.
"With a project that builds the capacity of our institutions to train African youths on African soil using modern approaches and equipment, we can look forward to a new Africa that is able and ready to tackle its challenges. The only regret is that it has taken far too long to undertake this educational venture."
Barrow promised that his government would continue to prioritise the development of The University of The Gambia (UTG), saying they endorse the efficient mechanisms adopted to integrate three schools of The Gambia College into the UTG.
He continued that they also endorse the upgrading and strengthening of the Management Development Institute to deliver degree programmes and support the Civil Service Reform and the broader sector administration programmes.
"Teacher training and education management now have a new dimension that creates avenues for higher levels of qualification, leading to degree courses. This is the result of upgrading the School of Education into a teacher training university."
Barrow emphasised that it is important to create multiple pathways for hands-on education and training, adding the emerging Centre of Excellence in Science, Technology and Engineering for Entrepreneurship will help the sector to deliver degree programmes that would groom skilled job creators through entrepreneurship and other outlets. He said such ventures will avail the youth of various openings to address our capacity challenges.