By Momodou Jarju
The Secretary General of the Gambia Press Union (GPU) Saikou Jammeh, said his union is interested in promoting media literacy especially in Secondary Schools across the country. Jammeh who said that this is missing in Schools, indicated that partnering with the Gambia College Press Club (GCPC), would be an important step they could consider. Jammeh made these and other statements last Saturday at the GPU office in Fajara, in a meeting with GCPC.
“In the sense that we could move from one School to another at the College, your School of agriculture, public health and others, may move from one class to another, to talk to them about the media, so that they understand its role and importance. Perhaps before this, we can take this discussion further. Perhaps what we need to do, is to create a group of young people like you at your College, and create a club where one can be trained to speak eloquently and confidently about the media. Then those people can be sent out to their colleagues to talk to them about media issues,” he told members of the GCPC.
Jammeh expressed delight that the GCPC sees the GPU as its “natural partner”, and as the umbrella body of all media institutions and or practitioners in the country, which prompted the courtesy call.
He told the eight-member delegation of the GCPC that to be a journalist, one needs talent, passion and values. He assured them that the GPU will always provide people who will train GCPC members free of charge and even support them financially, if possible.
Sheriff Bojang Jr., the GPU president said they are willing to support GCPC especially if it is not just an extracurricular activity, but where members want be part of the media; that this is a win-win for the GPU because it came at a time when they are on a recruitment exercise to extend their membership.
The veteran journalist said to be a member of the profession, does not mean one has to study journalism; that this is a wrong notion that most Gambians have; that to be an expert in agriculture, the person who studies the subject can best report on this area.
The Gambia College has four Schools of Education. Of these, the College Press has members from the School Agriculture and plans to reach out to other Schools. President Bojang Jr. advised the GCPC to encourage other Schools’ students to join the club.
“No school or University is going to prepare you for that. It would be your own passion and then the beauty is unlike twenty one years ago when I started, when the internet was luxury. There was nothing by that time. You cannot just go and google things. Now you can teach yourselve if you cannot afford to pay for a School,” he said.
“And if you want to operate from this building for example as an affiliate of the GPU that is fine. We just facilitate that but then let’s keep talking,” he told the GCPC delegation.
Baboucarr F. Jammeh the president of GCPC, outlined some of the activities the GCPC embarks on at the College. He said the College Press Club is there as the voice of the voiceless.
“Not all students can have access to voice out their plights to the administration. Therefore the Press Club serves as the mouthpiece of the students at the College,” he said.
Jammeh said the main aim of the visit to the GPU was to build partnership with them in order to help the club in capacity building, training and technical support.
Binta M. Sowe, the Assistant PRO of GCPC, outlined some of the challenges they face. Binta cited finance as their major challenge that the club is grappling with; that the club lacks computers and a printer, and they find it difficult to write and print their stories and articles.
The Assistant Secretary General of GCPC Muhammed Kandeh, talked about the upcoming two-day capacity building training that the Press Club plans to organize for its members. He implored on the GPU to assist in anyway it can, to ensure that the initiative is achieved.