By Nelson Manneh
As the Tekki-fii program winds to a close, implementing partners of the program on Thursday September 29th 2022, visited the Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) Annex in Mansakonko, to familiarise themselves with what is going on.
The GTTI Annex in Mansakonko was established in 2007 and during the past three years, the centre was renovated and expanded by the program. The centre currently has a student quarters for those who live far from the centre.
The GTTI Annex in Mansakonko runs three different programs and they are construction, solar electrification and metal work (welding). Last year, the centre was able to graduate seventy-five students through various skills and were certified.
Wandifa Fatty, the manager of GTTI Annex in Mansakonko said many a time, people complain that young people are not ready to work, which is far from the whole truth. He said skills training should be promoted at all levels, and said government should ensure that all regions have skills training centres, which will help all young people have access to skills training and be productive in their own societies.
“The main challenge we face at the Annex as of now is scholarship for students. Some of our students are without scholarships and they struggle very hard to get accommodation and other social amenities that will allow them concentrate on their education,” he said; that with skills, opportunities abound in the country.
“There is no way that you will acquire skills and not become useful in society,” he said.
He said when their students graduate, they are accommodated through business support by providing them with business training and others. He said students are not actually supported with startup capital but they are accepted as attachments before they are certified.
Commenting on the sustainability of the centre, Fatty said they have a maintenance unit and both teachers and students contribute to the maintenance of the centre; that as a management, they can contribute to maintain the system but stakeholders need to support them financially in order for the centre to continue running.
Ali Sowe, student leader learning construction at GTTI Annex in Mansakonko, said when he graduated from senior secondary school, he was unemployed.
“I was sitting at home with my parents and life was very difficult for me. I later come to this centre, pick up a form and started my training. Today I am proud to say that I own myself because of the skill I acquire from the Center,” he said.
Sowe urged his fellow youth to embrace skills training because it is the only way out towards a decent employment.
“You can be a university graduate for years before securing a job, but as a skillful person, you can secure contracts that can change your life and be a responsible person,” he said.
The “Tekkii-fii” program is funded by the European Union Emergency Trust Fund for Africa (EUT) for the improvement and economic development and prospects of Gambia’s youth including returning migrants, by promoting attractive employment and income opportunities for them.