Higher Education review three bills
By Cherno Omar Bobb
The Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MoHERST) will today, Friday conclude a three-day review of the Tertiary and Higher Education Trust Fund, Student Load Scheme and National Innovation Fund at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara Conference Center.
The Bills are a critical part of the Ministry’s reform agenda and are expected to contribute to the attainment of equitable access, quality and relevance in its tertiary and higher education, research, innovation, and entrepreneurship systems. These are the core pillars of the Ministry’s transformation agenda as stipulated in the MoHERST-Specific Strategy, 2021-2025.
The Tertiary and Higher Education Trust Fund is purposely intended to provide the much-needed financial support to tertiary and higher education institutions (THEIs) to improve the quality of teaching and learning, as well as research activities, by acquiring modern teaching and learning materials, improved capacity of staff and conduct relevant research in the productive sectors of the economy, among others.
The Student Loan Scheme will broaden the opportunity for more students to access further education to achieve their aspirations and to help reduce poverty and underdevelopment in the country. Students who cannot access scholarships will access the student loan to finance their education and, eventually, upon graduation and employment, pay back the loan.
The National Innovation Fund will significantly enhance research and innovation activities such as entrepreneurship and product development, thereby increasing employability and job creation, leading to sound socioeconomic development of the country.
Prof Pierre Gomez, the Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology in his remarks at the opening on Wednesday said the Government, through his Ministry, is implementing numerous projects and activities that will change the landscape of tertiary and higher education and continue to impact the lives of many young Gambians.
Minister Gomez stated that innovation has the potential to improve economic growth and national development.
He added that TVET decentralisation is also a laudable achievement that the Ministry continues to champion, noting that two new centres in the West Coast Region have been refurbished and will soon be operationalised.
Similarly, he said Mansa konko Rural Skills Centre has been renovated and expanded with dormitories with Julangelon a similar path of renovation. Most recently, the Ministry acquired two sites in CRR to focus on Agri-Business to help address the skills gap in critical sectors of the economy and particularly in the provincial areas, he further said.
Furthermore, he said the Ministry is working on upgrading MDI and Gambia College into Civil Service and Teacher Education Institutions, respectively.
Hon. Bakary K. Badjie, Chairperson of the National Assembly Select Committee on Education and ICT said there are a lot of student with admission into the university who cannot afford to pay to start, therefore describing the load scheme by the ministry as a step in the right direction.
He called on all stakeholders to support the ministry in the interest of Gambian students. He also expressed the National Assembly’s readiness to fully support the ministry.
Baboucarr Boye, the Minister of Public Service, Administration Reform, Policy Coordination and Delivery said The Gambia needs to recalibrate its funding mechanism towards education, adding the issue of higher education is crucial.