The Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology conducted a two-day sector retreat from the 25th to 26th of July, 2022. The retreat was centered on the Financing of Higher Education in The Gambia.
The meeting brought together Senior Management Staff of MoHERST, members from the National Assembly, line institutions under the Ministry’s purview, Higher Education Advisory Committee (HEAC), among others.
In his remark, the Hon. Minister of Higher Education, Professor Pierre Gomez, underlined the need to reflect on ways of financing higher education in The Gambia.
“We need to come out from the retreat with a roadmap, shaping the way forward to addressing this key challenge in higher education,” said Hon. Gomez.
To Prof. Gomez, education is the backbone of any development, as a result, universities and skill centers need to be well equipped to produce experts and technicians who will take charge of projects in the country which, in turn, will create a system of containment. This system, he explained, will make the country benefit directly from any investment that comes since it will be Gambians who will lead the workforce. He also suggested there be a way of retaining students, especially government sponsored students in forms of national service and also, student loan schemes to be looked into in order to ease their challenges.
Doctor Ebrima Sall, Chairman of HEAC, stated that the retreat is a sign of the visionary leadership of Hon. Gomez in coming up with ways of addressing the current context. He congratulated the ministry for taking the bold step of convening to address the problems of financing higher education which he believes, should be a priority for the government.
In his statement, Hon. Alhajie S. Darboe, National Assembly Member/Chairman of the Finance and Public Accounts Committee (FPAC) said that the retreat came at a good time with only a few months before the budget sessions. He advised MoHERST to do proper planning ahead of time.
Furthermore, presentations were made by the Director of Planning Budget and Policy Analysis (DPBPA), MoHERST; Director of Science, Technology, and Innovation (STI), MoHERST; and Director of Research and Development at The University of The Gambia (UTG).
In his presentation, the Director of DPBPA, Lamin Ceesay, gave an overview of the MoHERST Strategic Plan, its major programmes, interventions, deliberations, and cost. Also, the Director of STI, Mucktarr M.Y Darboe, deliberated on the proposal to establish a national innovation fund. Furthermore, Dr. Muhammed Lamin Sanyang of UTG presented the different financing models of higher education around the region and beyond, which serves as a basis for the development of a suitable model for the financing of higher education in The Gambia.
Finally, there were focus group discussions to dilate on the advantages and disadvantages of the presented models in a bid to build consensus on the development of a suitable strategy for The Gambia.