By Yunus S Saliu
At the ongoing maiden edition of the Comprehensive Health Education (CHE) Interschool Drama/Poetry Competition now at its climax, more educated and talented school children were discovered.
The maiden edition of the Comprehensive Health Education Interschool Drama/Poetry Competition for UBS and SSS in Region 1 kicked-off Friday, 20th May 2022 and the final of the competition is 24th June 2022, at Ebujan Theatre by 3:00 pm.
Semi-final held Friday, 10th June 2022, featured seven UBS and nine SSS, the UBS – St Augustine (drama/poetry – sexual and reproductive health); Garba Jahumpa (drama/poetry – forced married); Latrikunda Sabiji (drama/poetry – misconception on menstruation); New Covenant (drama/poetry – teenage pregnancy); Kanifing East (drama/poetry – teenage pregnancy); Kanifing East (drama/poetry – sexual and gender base violence) and Ndow’s (drama/poetry – values and attitude).
The senior secondary schools included Gambia SSS (drama/poetry – child early and forced marriage); St Augustine (drama/poetry – culture and society); St Joseph’s (drama/poetry –unsafe abortion); ABC (drama/poetry); Gambia Methodist Academy (drama/poetry – peer influence); Bakoteh (drama/poetry – school dropout); Glory Baptist (drama/poetry – rape); Nusrat (drama/poetry – values and attitude) and Kanifing East (drama/poetry – sexual Behavior and attitude).
However, the well contested semi-finals for the Upper Basic and Senior Secondary Schools saw five senior secondary schools and five upper basic schools through to the final scheduled for 24th June 2022 at Ebujan Theatre in Kanifing.
In the Senior Secondary School level of the semi-final, Nusrat Secondary School emerged the winner, Gambia Methodist Academy takes second position; Gambia Senior Secondary School – third position while St Augustine and ABC Senior Secondary Schools came fourth and fifth positions respectively.
New Convenant Upper Basic School come first position in the UBS level, followed by St Augustine – second position; Latrikunda Sabiji Upper Basic School – third position and Kanifing East Upper Basic and Bakoteh Upper Basic Schools grabbed fourth and fifth positions.
Addressing teachers and students among others, on behalf of the director of Curriculum Research, Evaluation and Development Directorate (CREDD) under the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), Mrs Kaddijatou Jobarteh described Comprehensive Health Education (CHE) as a burning issue of the day.
According to her, discussing the issue with parents and children in society is term as a taboo but quickly noted that with the drama/poetry competition performing by the students as trained by their teachers portrays great importance attached to the issue.
The ongoing drama/poetry competition, she said, is sending out positive and educative messages to the public as it creates awareness taking into consideration different areas/topics which the students and schools based their performances.
“Since they are school going children we discourage and emphasise the dangerous of early sexual activities among students, especially for those that may be sexually active but for lower graders we emphasise on abstinence from sex and sexual activities,” she explained.
She noted that the CHE program is really strengthening comprehensive health/sex education in the school curriculum noting “most of the topics are embedded in most of the teaching and learning activities. Thanks to the project for strengthening access to quality health education.”
However, Madam Phebian Ina Grant-Sagnia, the principal Investigator for Strengthening Access to Quality Comprehensive Health Education for in-and-out of School Adolescents in The Gambia expressed satisfaction over the performance of students in the ongoing competition.
“Through the competition, we are creating awareness and spreading the messages because we believe that knowledge is power some understand based on practical because lots of them got to understand more of the campaigns now through this competition,” she confirmed.
She encouraged participating schools and students to do more in the final as there are lots of prizes awaiting the winners in both levels.
She added that 24 schools from both UBS and SSS, from Banjul to Abuko, currently taking part in the competition and “ten schools – five from UBS and SSS each, made it to final. In the final stage the overall Best Male and Female Actor/Actress from different levels will be selected, too.”
The final competition is expected to grace by lots of dignitaries such as the First Lady of The Gambia; Ministers, directors from different Ministries, UN Representatives, Alkalos, Mayors or their representatives, the community people, “and of course, students.”
She encouraged the teachers/coordinators of these students to guide and coach their students and accompany them to the competition to share them up because they are all doing well.
Banna Jatta, a resident of Latrikunda Sabiji and member of the Community Base Committees (CBC) commended the participating schools and students for their brilliant performances saying “from the first to elimination stages they all did well in their different chosen topics of the CHE.”
The Comprehensive Health Education Interschool Drama/Poetry Competition is organised by the Comprehensive Health Education Team of the Curriculum Research, Evaluation and Development Directorate (CREDD) of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) in partnership with the International Development Research Center (IDRC), Canada.