Friday, September 22

Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education debt is about D50Million – Education Committee Reveals –

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By Binta Jaiteh

The Report of the National Assembly select committee on Education Training and ICT has revealed that the debt owed by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MOBSE) is about D50 million.

The report further highlighted that this debt is a challenge that is affecting their operations.

Speaking during the presentation of the committee’s report to plenary on the site visits to selected educational institutions, NAQAA and PURA from 11 to 16 October 2022 by Vice Chairperson, Bakary K Badjie said among the challenges are students’ data including grades are manually done and this poses serious challenges for students to access their grades on time, particularly after graduation.

He said, the College’s financial information is manually kept and thus the preparation of reports on a timely basis is extremely difficult and time-consuming. He added that the subvention received from the Ministry is very small and cannot even cater to the salaries of staff.

According to him, the current vehicle fleet is old and inadequate with a high maintenance cost, and student dormitories are inadequate and need a lot of maintenance. A building constructed in the school recently has structural issues and is unsafe for usage.

He also said the University of The Gambia (UTG) Farababantang campus, a representative of the Ministry of Higher Education, the consultant, and the contractor received the committee at the site. After a briefing on the status of the work, the committee was given a tour of the campus.

It was evident that some works are still in progress but some schools of the University were completed during this first phase. However, the Ministry indicated that funding has been secured to complete the rest of the works and they may be coming to parliament to get the necessary approval.

But the challenges and concerns raised, he continued, by the consultant and the contractor is a delay in payments from the government as their contribution has hampered the construction work and this has negatively impacted project delivery timelines. The national electricity grid and water supply are yet to be installed and this has slowed the testing of certain equipment at the site. Meanwhile, the rising cost of materials at the international and local levels is a huge challenge for the contractor.

However, he noted that 75% of the education levy given to the NAQAA is not enough to sustain its operations. NAQAA does not have enough vehicles that would allow them to consistently monitor the operations of institutions across the country. Lack of expertise in training standards and subject matter specialist in many TVET areas slows down their work, and there is no national assessment center that NAQAA can use to assess certain skills in TVET institutions and this slows down their operations. 

He lamented that access to quality Education is a right of every child and a priority in the education policy. Effective oversight by the Education Committee is hugely necessary to ensure efficiency in teaching and learning in The Gambia. 

He echoed at the assembly that the visit shall inform legislation, and budgetary allocation to make provision for lawmakers to scrutinize the activities of the education sector which the education policy of the Gambia has left out a framework for the effectiveness of our education system.