October 21, 2020

Gambia’s School System Has Failed a Generation of Millennials

By Alagi Yorro Jallow

Fatoumatta: There is something patently wrong with the public liberal education system in The Gambia, and these are not normal times for our country; these are extraordinary times, and extraordinary times call for extraordinary measures. These are not normal times. We have never seen anything like this before. The public has never seen anything like this before. Moreover, the political leaders of both political divide have never seen anything like this before; what can we do? How can we all step up and say entirely without equivocation to address the students’ and teachers’ poorly performing education outcomes in the country’s lowest-performing public schools and challenges facing public education in The Gambia.

How do you make a nation great with a failed youth population? I checked the statistics repeatedly and wondered aloud who should carry the can of this national calamity. Reading the final report of the 2020 Gambia Basic Education Certificate Examination (GABECE) results was not enough to shock as the reactions I got around me from a generation that sees tomorrow only from the prism of cash, real cash.

Fatoumatta: A society cannot be greater than its leaders’ values. A society mirrors its leaders. Moreover, by leaders, I am looking beyond the political leaders who are already beyond redemption. I see teachers as a particular class of leaders, gate-keeping for the nation in the education sector. Students rarely excel where those who teach need to be tutored on the correctness of what they teach. Teachers are like launderers of the linen of the future. Woe betide that future that is washed in muddy waters. I blame teachers, especially those in the public schools, for the mass failure as I blame the government for providing manure to grow a generation of sterile brains. My friends who chose to teach will not be happy at this conclusion of mine. They will spare me their anger. Is it not said that no one celebrates growers of rice bereft of grains?

Furthermore, teachers can do better if only they would know that learning is a life-long task. Sedentary intellectualism does not just stagnate; it puts the habitual laid-back in reverse gear.

 

Teachers will do better teaching if they continually add value to themselves. They can learn from even the West African Examination Council( WAEC), which annually puts its examiners and markers through the crucible of refresher courses. Moreover, the result shows in the seamless manner it has been conducting its affairs.

Fatoumatta: We cannot blame a specific group for the mass failure. It is a collective responsibility. We are all guilty, and we need to look for a way out to solve the problem. We need to work harder to ensure that students at that level are well catered for by the government, by the system, the school, and teachers.

Fatoumatta: The 2020 WASSCE is not yet out, but the final results of grade 9, known as The Gambia Basic Education Certificate Examination (GABECE) results. The Examination results were as revealing as they were astounding in exposing the Gambia’s future’s nakedness. Check the statistic final results of English Language and Mathematics. Check the minimum requirement for admission into grade 12 and admission in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) and many others who had good credits but did not pass either Mathematics or English Language. Mass failure! Ninety- six percent total failure: Following the decimal poor academic performance in numbers of the Grade 9, national examination results released significant stress to the parents. There are many reasons for children to under perm at public schools. It is essential to find the reasons for poor performance in public schools and develop a solution so that our children can better perform up to full potential.

Fatoumatta: Mr. Yunusa Bah, a parent and an imminent professional and an Instructional Technology Guide in the IT business, shrugged unapologetically to the poor academic performance in the Grade 9 certificate examination in his Facebook [post as “We have a severe problem with our education system. Of the 15 schools that produced students with an aggregate of 6, only 2 are gov’t public schools. The rest are private schools and mostly in the Greater Banjul Area”. Mr. Bah lamented that “26 students out of more than 26,000 students and MoBSE is proud of the results and celebrating it as this was anything to be proud of.” Mr. Bah continues, “I do not understand, and speaking, this is worse than COVID-19. We need to have a very serious discussion on education and treat it as an emergency and make tough decisions. The future of The Gambia will continue to be bleak as long as we cannot address education. The resultant effect is that we cannot produce the human capital we need for development”, according to his post.

Furthermore, if someone will not say it, those who know that there is such a thing as the truth must do whatever is in our power to diminish the flawed malignant education system reach into our society. There is one group of people who can do a lot – very quickly.

Furthermore, that is the Gambian government and donor supporting education projects, and without the support, Adama Barrow’s presidency will falter. Facts and the truth are not partisan. They are the bedrock of our democracy. Furthermore, we are either with them, with us, with our Constitution, our history, and the future of our nation, or you are against it. Everyone must answer that question.

A concerned parent pilloried that students were no longer encouraged to take their studies seriously since they believed in other ways of succeeding in life. Seeing what the entertainment industry has to offer, she said, they prefer to go that way rather than study to pass their examinations.

Fatoumatta:Let teachers do their bit.
Let governments govern well, removing our kids from writing examinations with an empty stomach.

Let parents see their wards as their future and be more severe in their obligations.

Let the nation promote the right values.
Not doing all these puts the nation in sure trouble. I pray the mass of the candidates who did not pass or could not pass or failed to pass will not be the next generation of troublers.

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