Sunday, May 28

PEN Gambia Centre Organises Day-Long Inter Senior Secondary School Debate

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By Musa O BahPEN International Gambia Centre on organised its first Inter Senior Secondary School debate among various schools within the Greater Banjul Area.

PEN is an international non-political organisation began operations in London, UK in 1921 simply as PEN and within four years there were twenty-five centres in Europe and by 1931 there were several centres in South America as well as China.The main vision of the organisation is to build a society, empowered critically and effectively to contribute to socio-political, cultural and economic change through literature.

The Executive Director, PEN Gambia Centre, Musa S. Sheriff in his introductory remark gave an overview of the organisation which he said is aimed at promoting debate and a culture of reading in schools.

“PEN International Centre is ready to work with schools, writers and artists for the promotion of freedom, justice and literature. But for now in the Gambia we want to focus on literature to bring back the culture of reading. The evolution of technology has changed the culture of reading when students used to go to the national library to take books to read. So the intervention of PEN Gambia is to go back to those years of reading culture,” Mr. Sheriff noted.

For his part, the President of Writers Association of the Gambia and the Vice Chancellor of the International Open University, Dr. Cherno Barry gave a powerful message of encouragement and courage to the students entreating them to adopt the culture of reading.

Dr. Barry also remembered the late fallen defenders of freedom and justice like the late co-proprietor of The Point newspaper, Dedya Hydara who was gunned down for defending freedom of expression, the late radio journalist, Omar Barrow who was also killed during the April 2000 student’s demonstration and journalist Chief Ebrima Manneh who was arrested by state agents for publishing a story critical of the Jammeh regime.

The academician also advised the students to develop a high sense of respect and tolerance for cultural diversity, noting that this cannot be achieved without reading.