The Chancellor of the International Open University (IOU), Professor Dr Bilal Philips, paid a courtesy call to the President of the Republic of The Gambia, His Excellency Adama Barrow. Professor Bilal Philips is the Founder and Chancellor of the International Open University (IOU), formerly known as the Islamic Online University.
The IOU is known for offering courses to young people to develop productive and prosperous lives for the socio-economic and sustainable development of the Gambia. Several Gambians utilized this opportunity to develop new knowledge and skills that bridged a capacity gap in Islamic Banking and Finance, Psychology, Information technology, and Business management, to mention a few.
The cooperation between the Gambia and the International Open University has become stronger, deeper, and much more beneficial to the Government and the People of the Gambia in pursuit of the priorities of the National Development Plan. The Chancellor’s intended visit was to express his deepest gratitude to The Gambia for hosting the headquarters and running a university that exists in more than 200 countries and providing higher education to everyone affordably and flexibly.
While meeting President Barrow, Professor Bilal Philips offered scholarships worth US$4,000,000 (four million dollars) to President Barrow for the education and training of 1000 eligible candidates, particularly the poor and the underprivileged, to enjoy the diverse programmes tenable at the International Open University.
The training and provision of a 1000 scholarship offered to the Gambians are under an IOU scholarship scheme known as the One Million Africa Scholarships for deserving youth project, known as the 1MAS.
The One Million African Scholarship Programme was launched in 2017 and intended to develop the capacities of eligible African needy students who cannot in any way afford to access a relevant higher education. The International Open University is built on the conviction that the best way to change the world is through education and that education must be accessible and affordable to learners.
Empowering learners with no means of financial wherewithal to explore the top of their potential ultimately prompted the IOU to establish the 1MAS Scholarly Scheme to break the barrier of financial challenges to education. Since then, 16 countries and over 2,756 students are enjoying the rare opportunity of having free education, which will subsequently change the quality of lives and livelihoods of individuals, families, and communities in Africa.
The scholarship project extends through the programmes offered at the International Open University without restriction or discrimination of the student’s racial, sexual, ethnic, or religious background or orientation. The IOU offers academic programs at the certificate, Bachelor, and Master’s levels in a variety of disciplines.
It must also be understood that the 1MAS Scholarship project is overwhelmingly contributing to the United Nation’s resolve of the right to education which revolves around the concepts of availability, accessibility, acceptability, and adaptability.
To advance his commitment to change the world through education, and expand the IOU’s endeavour to empower accessible education, the Chancellor, Professor Dr Bilal Philips, in a separate engagement, opened a new learning centre at Jarra Soma about 175 kilometres away from its headquarters at Kanifing.
The purpose of this new center is to ensure decentralised access to education that widens the opportunities for rural dwellers to enjoy equal access to educational institutions and facilities. The learning centre is furnished with 25 desktop computers with high-speed internet connectivity that facilitates effective teaching and learning in the 21st century. The occasion attracted high-profile community members of Jarra Soma, Civil servants, Staff, and students of the International Open University.