By Awa Bah
An assortment of tools, consumables and furniture was presented to Mr. Ousman Sillah, National Assembly Member (NAM) for Banjul North, for the proposed Crab Island Technical and Vocational Education Training (TVET) Centre by the Rotary Club of Fajara at a ceremony held on Friday, 20 April, 2018 at the Region 1 Regional Education Office at Kanifing.
In receiving the donated items, Mr. Sillah, the initiator of the Crab Island TVET project and Co-Chair of the Steering Committee, expressed profound appreciation and gratitude for the donation which he described as useful and timely. “With this intervention, it is coming at a right time as it is going to give us a kick start as we have not yet started to acquire tools and furniture for the TVET Centre,” he said.
He described it as a boost and noted that the Centre would need more of these tools and materials to stockpile since some of them are consumables or are subject to wear and tear,
“Initiatives start from somewhere but the credit for this should not only come to me alone. I have been in this together with partners, notably the Permanent Secretary Ministry for Basic and Secondary Education, who has been very helpful since day one,” said the Banjul North NAM.
Mr. Sillah said the PS, who is representing the government, has been giving the initiative all the support it requires up to this stage in terms of the provision of stationery, printing and distribution of letters for their functions as well as participating in meetings. He added that the ministry has assigned a team to work closely with them on this initiative.
“I was also able to put up a team comprising interested persons from the private sector and also government to constitute the Steering Committee which is responsible for taking care of this initiative,” said the Banjul North NAM.
He added that they could not have reached where they are today without the support of all these partners and, as such, the credit should go to all of them.
The Banjul North NAM said the European Union (EU) funded Youth Empowerment Programme (YEP) is also one of the partners supporting the Crab Island initiative. He noted that the proposed Crab Island TVET Centre is also meant to cater for the young people who venture the perilous irregular migration journey to Europe by providing them with the opportunity to acquire livelihood skills to become productive and earn income for their survival. He added that this is one of the reasons why the YEP is supporting the proposed TVET Centre to provide these young people with an alternative to irregular migration.
“For the information of everybody, we are at an advanced stage in the process. Now we are at the stage of engaging a consultant to develop a business plan with YEP funding. The consultant has been identified and we are hoping that by the end of May he would be ready with the business plan which will be presented to the YEP as well as other donors for funding,” he disclosed.
Mr. Sillah further revealed that they have also secured the support of a donor who will be funding the development of the infrastructure such as the construction of new buildings and the refurbishment of existing structures. He added that the PS MoBSE will dwell on that source of support.
He also noted the involvement of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MoHERST) in the process, adding “they are now fully on board and are ready to give the initiative all the support it may require from that end.”
The Banjul North NAM said that it is their wish to enroll the first batch of intakes this September if everything goes according to plan.
He also noted the goodwill from the members of the pubic, adding “I have not met anyone who after hearing about Crab Island is not supporting the initiative.”
Mr. Sillah concluded by inviting all those who were present to witness the “historic event” to be part of the Crab Island initiative.
In delivering a statement on the occasion, Mr. Muhamed Jallow, the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), thanked the Rotary Club for the support accorded to the Crab Island TVET Centre. He also thanked the press for responding to the invitation to cover the event after a very short notice.
“It is a pleasure on behalf of the honourable Minister to thank the honourable Member for Banjul North and also the Rotary Club of Fajara for the support.” he said.
The PS MoBSE said just as the Banjul North NAM has noted; the issue of Crab Island is a national one. “There are sentiments all over the country with people asking what is being done with Crab Island as it used to be one of the foremost schools in terms of technical education,” he added.
PS Jallow said many people have passed through Crab Island and it is obvious that when they see their alma mater going down it naturally elicits concern.
“That is why when the honourable member talks about training in skills, we were very much ready to partner with the initiative and I’m glad to say that since then, things have been moving on,” said the MoBSE PS.
He said as the Banjul North NAM mentioned in terms of infrastructure we have support from MRC Holland that has already committed to do the construction of the school, adding that hopefully they may be able to get more support from other sources.
Mr. Jallow said the tools that are being donated will go a long way in re-establishing the glory of Crab Island and the enhancing the centre. “Let me also take the opportunity to explain that as we are having a skills centre at Crab Island there will be alongside it a technical high school,’ he said.
He added that this will be providing opportunity to those who wish to continue with technical education to transit through the centre to the high school.
Speaking earlier, Mr. Minyan Jobe, Assistant Governor of the Rotary Club of Fajara 109 District, in presenting the items, commended the NAM for Banjul North for not only thinking about himself but the youths of the Gambia of which he represents. “This thing is not only for Banjul but the Greater Banjul Area as this wonderful initiative is to help empower these youths to give them job skills so that they can go out there and be employable or have their own businesses,” he said.
Mr. Jobe thanked his fellow Rotarians from the Rotary Club of Roydenrolf who, he said, went around in the UK while he was there looking for support to help this initiative. “I hope it will continue and by coincidence they are here today to witness this presentation and I’m pleased that when they go back it will give them the drive to continue to support this wonderful project,” said the Assistant Governor of the Rotary Club of Fajara.
Rebecca Moynehan, of the Rotary Club of UK also spoke briefly on behalf of the visiting Rotarians.
The items consist of carpentry, welding, hair dressing tools, uniforms, gloves, drawers, desks, chairs and other consumables.