Paradigm Shift In Higher Education: Govt. Pledges Multi-purpose TVET Centers in Every Region

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By: Muhammed Lamin Drammeh

The Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science, and Technology (MoHERST) of the Republic of The Gambia, Professor Pierre Gomez, has said the government is taking a paradigm shift in the country’s higher education system by investing a lot in technical and vocational education centres in every region in a bid to curb youth unemployment in the country.

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Minister Gomez, whose experience in tertiary education spans over 25 years, told The Fatu Network that establishing multipurpose TVET centres in the country is a ‘game changer’ in the education system. He highlighted that the government of the Gambia, through his ministry, is committed to furnishing youth with TVET centres as developed countries do.

“This is a game changer in our higher education system. All developed countries use TVET. The president feels that we must create TVET centres in all the regions to curb unemployment, rural-urban migration and illegal migration to be addressed. We are going to the people, find the youth in their backyard and give them quality education; an education that will help them to employ themselves,” he said.

The former University of The Gambia Acting Vice-Chancellor, whose appointment as the country’s higher education minister was lauded, affirmed that the project of building these centres is on.

He revealed to The Fatu Network that the government is now in charge of the Ndenban and Kanilai TVET centres and that the construction of the building is almost done. He declared that both centres are multipurpose, and the centres will as well address the accommodation of both staff and students in the dormitories.

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Additionally, he said that the centre in Mansakonko in the Lower River Region is having additional structures and all these three centres will be inaugurated on the same day.

On the heels of the underwhelming performance of Gambian students in the 2022 grade 12 WASSCE exam, many Gambians call for technical and vocational education training centres since less than 5 per cent of the students who sat the exam met the university entrance requirement.

Last month, Prof. Gomez and some members of his staff and development partners went to the Central River Region to inspect possible sites where TVET centres can be built. Two areas were identified: Sapo and Kuntar.

According to Mr Gomez, the Kuntar centre will be multi-purposed unlike the one to be erected in Sapo. He explained that the centre in Sapo will be wholly and surely focused on Agribusiness.

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“In Sapo, as opposed to all other centres, this one will not be multipurpose. This one will focus on agribusiness and agricultural-related activities. It will not be like classroom agriculture, like learning agriculture and never being on the farm; that will not happen.  It will be like from classroom to the farm,” he emphasized.

Gomez elucidated that Sapo is a good area for agricultural activities, where one can engage in agricultural activities all year round. He explained that the place has fresh water, adding that making agricultural equipment will also be taught in the centre.

Prof., in emphasizing the commitment of the government to providing vocational and technical education for Gambian youths, said his ministry will continuously strive for functional education that will enable students from these centres to be self-employed.

He said the ministry will go to other regions with their development partners to search for suitable places where these centres will be built.

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