By Mama A. Touray
The Ministry of Higher Education Research Science and Technology (MoHERST) on Wednesday embarked on a three-day review and validation of the tertiary and higher education trust fund bill, student loan scheme bill, and National innovation fund bill.
The review and validation forum is undergoing at the Sir Dawda Kairaba Jawara International Conference Center, Bijilo.
Speaking at the forum, Professor Pierre Gomez, Minister of MoHERST said these Bills are a critical part of the Ministry’s reform agenda in contributing to the attainment of equitable access, quality, and relevance in tertiary and higher education, research, innovation, and entrepreneurship systems.
“The Tertiary and Higher Education Trust Fund is purposely intended to provide the much-needed financial support to tertiary and higher education institutions (THEIs) to improve the quality of teaching and learning, as well as research activities, by acquiring modern teaching and learning materials, improved capacity of staff and conduct relevant research in the productive sectors of the economy, among others,” Minister Gomez stated.
“This way, our institutions will strengthen their contributions to national development and enhance the employability of their graduates,” he added.
Hon Gomez went further that the Student Loan Scheme will broaden the opportunity for more students to access further education to achieve their aspirations and to help reduce poverty and underdevelopment in the country.
According to him, students who cannot access scholarships will access the student loan to finance their education and, eventually, upon graduation and employment, paying back the loan the student loan scheme will be self-sustaining and impact many lives.
He continued that the innovation has the potential to improve economic growth and national development. Thus, The National Innovation Fund will significantly enhance research and innovation activities such as entrepreneurship and product development, thereby increasing employability and job creation, leading to the sound socioeconomic development of the country.
National Assembly member for Foni Bintang Karanai Bakary K. Badjie, vice chairman of the select committee on education said the National Assembly members are left with no option but to support this initiative and in the interest of the nation that they are all gathered and that once they put their heads together with the conviction that the minister has, he has no doubt that it will work in the interest of the nation.
For his part, the Minister of Public Service, Administrative Reform and Delivery urged stakeholders to review the bills by using the thinking of a typical Gambian, not a Gambian that lives in the urban area but they should “think like the Gambian in rural Bolibanna as the issue of funding for higher education is very crucial to them.”
Meanwhile, Dr. Yusupha Touray, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Higher Education Research Science and Technology highlighted the documents they are reviewing and validating may outline ways and means of raising Gambia’s competition towards this important development.
“The important part of this exercise is to identify some costs sharing mechanisms that when properly cultivated would save us away from these predicaments. It is expected therefore that this body will do justice to these bills before presenting them to the cabinet committee on bills and the Ministry of Justice for alignment with national and international laws,” he stated.