Isatou Ceesay Bah
Following the official launch, on 14 June 2017, of the process towards the establishment and operation of the Banjul North Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) Centre at the former Crab Island, a series of consultation between and among stakeholders and other related activities have taken place culminating in the development of working documents for the implementation of the project.
The latest of these consultations was the forum held yesterday, Thursday, 16 August, 2018 at the Kanifing Regional Education Directorate of Region 1 to update stakeholders on the developments and to validate the documents developed by a consultant which include a Business Plan, Financial Projections and Monitoring and Evaluation (M&E) Plan.
The initiative is being promoted by Ousman Sillah, the National Assembly Member for Banjul North, in partnership with the ministry of basic and secondary school, International Trade Center (ITC) under the European Union (EU) supported by Youth Empowerment Project (YEP) and other stakeholders.
Speaking at the forum, the Banjul North lawmaker and initiator of project, said that the purpose of inviting the stakeholders is to provide them with an update on the developments from the inception of the process to date and share and validate the outcome of the consultancy on the establishment and operations of the Banjul North (TVET) Centre.
Dilating on the genesis of the initiative, Mr. Sillah said “it all started during my campaign in the run-up to the National Assembly election in March/April 2017 when I expressed my desire to do something about the former Crab Island School when elected since the place appeared abandoned as teaching and learning were no longer taking place there.”
He said Crab Island is in the constituency under which he was contesting, adding that the physical state of the school, with its crumbling walls and vandalised windows and doorframes, was not only an eyesore to many passersby but has generated genuine concern and interest among those who had an academic stint there. “In fact, it creates a sense of nostalgia in those who had seen the facility before in its glory days as one of the first purpose built ultra-modern educational institution in the country which was churning out very good students. I am also part of the history as alumni of Crab Island who did one academic year there before proceeding to high school in the 70s,” said the Banjul North NAM.
Mr. Sillah said his first official engagement after being elected into office as the National Assembly Member for Banjul North was to meet with the education officials to enquire about the fate of Crab Island. He said his meeting with the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), Mr. Muhammed B.S. Jallow, revealed that the school was not abandoned but that the ministry as part of a broader policy of making technical education an option for higher education has plans to transform the school into a technical high school and that a project has already been signed with BADEA to fund the rebuilding of the abandoned buildings at the Crab Island Junior Secondary School.
“However, my initiative for Crab Island was applauded and MoBSE allocated part of the facility, which is under its custody, to be refurbished and transformed into the proposed Banjul North Technical and Vocational Education and Training Centre,” said the Banjul North NAM.
The proposed Banjul North (TVET) Centre, according to the initiator, aims to provide vocational, entrepreneurship, organizational and leadership skills for the unemployed, unskilled, potential and returning migrants, school dropouts and vulnerable groups within the Banjul and Greater Banjul metropolis.
Mr. Sillah said the partners have made their buy-ins and that the next phase is the commencement of improving the infrastructure which involves the renovation works on existing buildings and the building of some structures.
“The plan is to start rolling out courses in the first quarter of 2018 (between January and March) following the completion of the buildings.
In declaring the forum officially opened, Mr. Adama Jimba Jobe, the Deputy Permanent Secretary, deputizing the permanent secretary, said the conception of the initiative by the Banjul North NAM came at the right time when people are talking about the challenges confronting the youths all of this country who constitute 60 percent of the population and most of whom are unemployed and without the appropriate skills to be productive.
Mr. Jobe also noted the important role that the former Crab Island School had played in producing many students who are serving the country very well.
The MoBSE DPS acknowledged the importance of skills to the development of the nation and saluted the NAM for Banjul North for coming up with such a project at such a critical time.
He pledged his ministry’s unflinching and maximum support to the initiative towards its establishment and operation.
Mr. Jobe concluded by thanking Mr. Sillah for coming up with this laudable initiative.
The forum which included the opening and a working session, were moderated by Mrs. Oumis Sissoho Batchilly, Member of the Steering Committee of the Banjul North TVET initiative.
Presentations were made by Mr. Sillah, NAM Banjul North and Co-Chair of Steering Committee, Mr. Matarr John and Mr. Alpha Bah, Planner at MoBSE, who are both members the Steering Committee.
Mr. Sulayman Bun Njie, a community elder in Banjul North, gave remarks and the vote of thanks.
The event was graced by members of the Steering Committee, a cross section of residents and elders from Banjul, partner institutions, media fraternity and other guests.