By Yunus S Saliu
The Ministers of Higher Education, Science and Technology and Youth and Sports, the government Spokesperson, UN system representatives, and permanent secretaries among other dignitaries, Friday, 24th June 2022 graced the final edition of the Comprehensive Health Education (CHE) Interschool Drama/Poetry Competition held at the Ebujan Theatre, Kanifing.
The maiden edition of the Comprehensive Health Education Interschool Drama/Poetry Competition was organised by the Comprehensive Health Education Team of the Curriculum Research, Evaluation and Development Directorate (CREDD) under the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) with full support from the International Development Research Center (IDRC).
The competition brought twenty-four schools, upper basic and senior secondary, in Region 1 together to compete and it served as an extension of class to all the students and teachers the competition went through preliminary/elimination to the semi-final and final stages.
Addressing the gathering, Professor Pierre Gomez, Honourable Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology expressed delight over the CHE Interschool Drama/Poetry Competition that has been anchored and implemented through the schools and community-based programs.
Interschool competition, he noted, is aimed at providing quality CHE to in-and-out of school adolescents and it is in line with the government policy, which is to provide all-inclusive education to every Gambian child.
“So, using literature and poetry will help the kids,” he said while acknowledging the presence of the Minister of Youth and Sports, Government Spokesperson, representatives of the UN System and permanent secretaries among others for coming out to support the idea and students.
He went further to express his impression over the outlined CHE sexual and reproductive health topics included in this competition, ranging from body and puberty, menstruation, pregnancy, prevention, sexually transmitted diseases, and use of contraceptives and among others.
“Our youths need to be informed and educated so that they understand and take charge of their body and destiny because if you don’t know who you are you will not know how to preserve yourself/body,” he stated.
Therefore, “using literature, poetry, and drama to educate them to take charge and preserve what is important to them need to be supported and the Gambia government will support this type of initiative. Thus, drama and poetry have been widely used to provide students with the platform to freely express their thoughts, feelings, and understanding about social issues affecting them in their lives,” Professor Gomez disclosed adding “it is a race of development.”
He thanked CREDD of MoBSE through the CHE program for putting up efforts to bring the communication gap in the area of sexual health education by integrating it into the curriculum. “This is important and would be translated into curriculum content of the tertiary of higher education sub-sector where we already have affirmative strategies on all-inclusiveness and gender mainstreaming for the interest of the common goal,” he said.
The Honourable Minister, however, expressed appreciation to MoBSE through the comprehensive health education research coordination team under the curriculum directorate for this great initiative and implored them to continue such regularly as it will go a long way in changing mindset and creating a positive attitude towards health education and promotion of wellbeing among students in school.
In an extension, he thanked the principal investigator of the project for her commitment and dynamism as she keep on pushing.
Ebrima G Sankareh, Government Spokesperson dilated on the need for parents to change their attitude and be aware that their kids or children are not sleeping but watching and conscious of what is happening at home “as our sisters, aunties, daughters, and mothers are subject of gender sublimation.”
In brief, Honourable Bakary Badjie, Minister of Youth and sports commended the CHE team of the CREDD under the MoBSE for organising the educative and informative CHE Interschool Drama/Poetry competition.
Minister Badjie congratulated all the participated schools and as well the schools that emerged the winners of the competition at both UBS and SSS and encouraged them all to keep it up as they have all made their schools proud.
Director of CREDD, Momodou Jeng, described the competition as one of the strategies they adopt to send across messages related to comprehensive health education “as we are attending to integrate it into the school education curriculum.”
Madam Phebian Ina Grant Sagnia, Principal Investigator for Strengthening Access to Quality Comprehensive Health Education for in-and-out of School Adolescents in The Gambia, gave the synopsis of the research of the CHE and its findings.
However, in the SSS category of the Interschool Drama/Poetry Competition Gambia Senior Secondary School emerged as the overall winner while Nusrat SSS and ABC SSS become 2nd and 3rd respectively. At the UBS level, New Covenant emerged as the winner while Latrikunda Sabiji and Kanifing East UBS grabbed 2nd and 3rd positions respectively.