Education as a basic right of an individual and a means of achieving personal fulfillment will be a major policy objective. Furthermore education is closely related to the economy, as it is a major partner in development. In view of this the development of our human resources through education and training is a necessary step in achieving economic growth and development.
The objectives of our education policy will be further geared towards improving opportunities for the upward social mobility for all, narrow the income inequality gap so that the positive effect of education would benefit all. For any Nation to achieve its development goals and to be sustainable it must be led by a well-fed, healthy and educated society. We will build the organizational capacity to come up with the right reforms to achieve the critical minimum effort required for success. As part of the process of our education sector, the UDP led government will identify and address the most salient of the constraints of training and educating our young, to meet the challenges of the 21st century.
The quality of education in the country still face the challenges of low levels of learning outcomes and achievements at all levels of the system. According to a Department of Education strategy published in August 2008 only 20 percent of grade-three students passed English and 18 percent Mathematics in 2008. Grade-five students fared little better where 30 percent of the students passed English and 13 percent Mathematics.
Quality remains a serious problem in Gambian schools. Quality is compromised by a number of factors including high teacher and student absenteeism, low content knowledge of trainee-teachers, and few career development opportunities for teachers. Some of these reasons have been documented even in the Department of Education’s 2008-11 strategy.
The UDP led government will adopt and implement an education policy that adequately responds and safeguards the interests of the parents, the pupils, and of course the teachers, who are the key implementers of the policies and programs. We will improve the number of contact hours between teachers and children that has been drastically cut by the government’s extreme lavishness with public holidays and school holidays. The parents and teachers will be involved in the formulation of the policy so that they will be abreast with the basics of the education policies, whose successful implementation they are key players in.
We will improve the pupil – teacher ratio and basic teaching materials such as chalks, textbooks, teaching aids to improve teaching and learning conditions in schools. Training and career development for teachers will be improved apart from the basic training they receive from the Teacher Training institutions. A conducive and enabling environment will be created to improve the working conditions of teachers as a strategy of motivating them to ensure efficiency and commitment to quality education delivery and learning achievements. In this regards, the UDP led government will provide adequate funding to the education sector to ensure retention of teachers especially at primary and secondary levels.
A UDP Government will encourage vocational and entrepreneurial training to be part of the school syllabus to equip our children the skills for self-employment. The Gambia at the current state of economic development needs more technically skilled under-graduates to face the demand and challenges of the twenty-first century.
The university education system will also be revamped in a way that ensures quality but also guarantees relevance. Our government will support the different faculties of the university to equip the students with the relevant education needed to advance the development goals of the country.