By Awa B. Bah
The Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology MoHERST on Monday 7th August, gathered at a local hotel for the start of a three- day retreat to discuss the rationalization of the country’s tertiary institutions’ curriculum.
The objective of the retreat is to review the ministry’s execution of its mandate together with its satellite institutions in order to better serve the Gambian people, in the area of higher education.
Participants are expected to examine the legal instruments that govern the operations and management of the institutions and bring together the institutions in the drafting of a durable and sustainable legal framework that will guide them in the execution of their mandates.
Minister Badara A Joof, in his opening remarks, said the initiation of the sector review is to make sure that the functioning of tertiary institutions are indexed into what the new society requires today since the Gambia is to be realigned with the rest of international world’s academia.
Mr. Joof said they started with the University of the Gambia and also for the Gambia College to be indexed into the University of the Gambia. These he said will be necessary to look at, and see how best they can come up with a new instrument for the new academic and institutional dispensation that they want for the UTG.
According to Mr. Joof: “The school of education will be part of the faculty of education of the UTG, the school of agriculture will be part of the faculty of Agriculture, the school of Nursing and Public health will be realigned with the School of Medicine and Allied Sciences, so as to rationalized the whole institutional arrangement between the UTG and the Gambia College.’’
On the operative way, he said they are going to link Engineering, Science and Technology, Robotics and Information Technology to Huddersfield University, which will take the lead in this, with the assistance of the University of Southbank and others.
He revealed that there will be an audit to see where the gaps are in order to rationalize, upgrade and update the staff so that they can be a cutting edge capacity for a technical university because not everybody who is lecturing at GTTI or Gambia College, can teach in a university. These people, he noted, have to be upgraded to be able to take their place in universities.
‘‘This day and age of society is being science driven, based on the digital economy and it is important that we in-service our people in those areas so that they can respond and priorities will be given to those areas,’’ he said.
Mr. Joof said it is important to look into other disciplines but there are priorities within priorities and ‘‘we’’ do not want to have a society where graduates will be unemployed simply because the skills they have is not needed and the public sector cannot absorb all of them.
This, he said, is why the ministry wants to re-orientate and re-engineer these institutions to respond effectively to all national development agendas.
For MDI, Mr. Joof indicated their plans to link up with Ghana Institute of Management and Public Administration, GIMPA, to operate in the area of the Social Sciences, Procurement, IT, Accountancy and the Civil Service.
Mr. Joof also highlighted plans to rationalize the curriculum of GTTI into courses and the audit team will look at the relevant areas they should focus on and then leave the rest to MDI and others to focus exclusively.
The UTG he said have their own charter but they are also linking them up with the University of Ibadan to help them do courses; that linking them with a supporting university like Legon in Ghana, will assist in getting a visibility and recognition that they need for the three institutions internationally.
Their certificates, he indicated, will be backed by the certificate of GIMPA over a period of years before they have their own Charter so that a graduate will be awarded a certificate in BSC in association with MDI, or BSC in Mechanical Engineering, awarded by Huddersfield in association with GTTI,
He said these will attract both Gambian and outside students. Their certificates he indicate will be backed by the certificate of the GIMPA over a period of years before they have their own charter so that a graduate will be awarded a certificate in BSC being in association with MDI, or BSC in mechanical engineering being awarded to you by Huddersfield in association with GTTI.
The Permanent secretary, Mr. Yaya Sireh Jallow in his introduction, remarked that the retreat is necessary, given the recent development of the political landscape of the country and the new development agenda of the new government.
The new thinking, Jallow noted, revolves around the novel idea of upgrading the GTTI and MDI to University status; that one will be a technical university and the other, a public administration and political service institution; that the Gambia College and its School of Nursing can be fused into the University of the Gambia’s super structure, as one entity.
He encouraged them to work together, support each other with a view to come up with concrete recommendations.