The Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, Mr. Mod A.K Secka, recently led a delegation to the United Kingdom from the 21st to 30th May, 2022, to attend the Education World Forum 2022. The Education World Forum 2022 is a statutory meeting primarily for education Ministers around the world to address jointly, the challenges and implications that are faced developing education policy. The Education World Forum was under the theme ‘’building forward together; stronger, bolder, better’’.
The Permanent Secretary was accompanied by Deputy Permanent Secretary (Finance and Admin) - Mr. Madi O. Jatta, Deputy Permanent Secretary (Technical)– Dr. Yusupha Touray, and Principal Science, Technology and Innovation Officer, Mr. Samba Sowe. The visit afforded the delegation an opportunity to conduct bilateral meetings with the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) / Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (CSC); and Officials of De’ Montfort University (DMU) in Leicester.
During the meetings, the ACU has agreed to provide technical support by providing linkages with UK universities through blended learning programmes in STEM and Health in The Gambia as part of a West Africa Project. Additionally, they have agreed to facilitate the linkages with USET and University of Aberdeen in setting up a Faculty of Petroleum and Gas in USET as well as UTG and the University of Edinburgh on capacity development for the UTG School of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, specifically in Livestock and Animal Husbandry.
The Commonwealth Scholarship Commission (UK) were thanked for the annual award of scholarships to The Gambia and a request was done by the Permanent Secretary for an increase in the slot for Gambians who can benefit from the Commonwealth Scholarships in a bid to help regain the loss human resources during the previous regime and at the same time, make up for the lost time during the years of exit as a member of the Commonwealth of Nations. The PS argued that due to the current transformation agenda of the public tertiary and higher education institutions, it is relevant for capacity of the staff of these institutions to be developed to ensure to meet up the requirements of being lecturers and teaching staff. The Permanent Secretary further requested for the ACU to support The Gambia in capacity development for TVET teachers and trainers, as there is a major expansion on TVET training across all regions of the country.
The Chair of the commonwealth Scholarships indicated that they would share the list of all Gambian commonwealth scholarship beneficiaries since its inception in 1962 and well as be consistently sharing information and updates with the Ministry regarding all successful candidates of the award, as this will help smoothen the process of bonding, study leave arrangements for students. He however advised that MoHERST should support applicants in ensuring that their applications factor in ‘’development impact’’, as it is a key determinant to being successfully awarded. Additionally, the ACU will be part of the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting (CHOGM) in Kigali in June 2022, and they will use the forum to push for more scholarships and capacity building packages for its member states.
The meeting with the University of De’ Montfort (DMU) gave the delegation the opportunity to meet with the Vice Chancellor and the team working on the Gambia project that is supporting the USET in embedding entrepreneurship as part of its curriculum.
The team were taken through a presentation of the status of implementation of the project and some of the challenges that needed to be overcome for a smooth implementation. These includes the recruitment of the USET team in Gambia that will be working on the innovation lab as well as the validation of the entrepreneurship curriculum for use in USET. The team had the opportunity to be taken through a conducted tour of laboratories and workshops including the disruptive and innovation labs within the campus. The delegation informed DMU that they will be engaged soon on similar support towards establishing the Faculties of Computer Science and Architecture and Fine Arts at USET. The team also paid a courtesy call on the officials of The Gambia High Commission in London.
For MoHERST Delegates, the visit provided them an opportunity to learn from other countries on strategies being put in place to ensure there is business continuity in teaching and learning amidst CoVID-19, as well as meet with development partners in firming up on technical support towards the transformation program of The Gambia, likewise provision of more scholarships to Gambians. The conclusions reached at and the follow-up actions would be appropriately undertaken to help The Gambia realize its potential in providing training at degree level in Science, Engineering and Technology under the new University of Applied Science, Engineering and Technology (USET) as well as build capacity for the sector.