Education And National Development
Monday, January 17, 2011
Education is one of the most important sectors of any economy, if not the most important one. Agriculture is said to be the backbone of any economy. However, agriculture in itself is worthless without education; it is the resources that are attributed to the meaning of agriculture that makes it worth noting. Agriculture is realized, felt and recognized as a result of education that searched the benefits and satisfactions human beings derive from agricultural products.
Readers would agree with me at this juncture, that education is one of the most important sectors of any economy. Agriculture is used to compare its importance to that of education, but various reasons are given to substantiate this point in order to convince the government and other development partners to invest and strengthen the progress and development of education to a higher height in this part of the world and not a mere lip service or politicking.
The educational development of our beloved nation is still crude in the sense that at forty-six years of independence, the population of more than 1.5 million cannot still occupy the major sectors of the economy. The frequent price increments we are experiencing can be attributed to this. It is therefore high time for us to concentrate on the serious development of this great sector of our economy to enlighten The Gambian populace sincerely to increase their awareness of current trends of developments around the world and awake some of our brethren and sisters from their long sleeps or slumbers.
We keep blaming the former colonial masters and the regime of the first republic and fail to put up measures to avoid the history to repeat itself and this is exactly what is taking ground. Our people have been going to schools since the colonial period and had learnt and acquired vast knowledge and experience until they asked the British to leave our land because they had acquired sufficient knowledge to rule their own land. If our present leadership had noticed serious lapses in the management of the national resources by the former regime and chased them away through the barrel of the gun, they should make sure that the citizens are given opportunities to get control of all the major economic sectors in the country.
The books we read from primary school to high school were foreign materials as well as colleges and university. Our own learned people are not producing such valuable materials or doing it at a minimal level. Then we can blame ourselves for being in education since in the colonial era without making much progress.
How many academics with doctorates do we have in the ministry of agriculture and the vast stretches of arable land stretching from Kartong to Koina, and the fresh water, yet we cannot provide sufficient food for the population? How many agricultural extension workers were trained at Gambia College since independence? How many teachers were trained at Gambia College with both PTC and HTC and those trained in Ghana and Sierra Leone? Yet there are insufficient teachers for schools. How many nurses were trained at School of Nursing? We are still faced with inadequacy of trained nurses in hospitals and health centers.
How many Gambians have done business studies at MDI and other tertiary institutions? The business sector of the Gambia is still on its knees, while we bear the cost of commodities and the pains of high prices.
We can attain economic growth and development if we invest judiciously in education sector by motivating teachers to stay in the system particularly our graduate teachers. They should be provided with sufficient teaching and learning materials and empower teachers more and provide security for them.
Educationists should be involved in the development of teaching and learning materials of their own in the form of competition, where teachers and all educationists will be called upon to write materials on various disciplines or areas of study.
Agricultural science should not be learnt theoretically, but practically and use it as an income generating field for schools and people. Home Economics, Arts and Crafts, Wood Work and Metal Work should be further strengthened to inculcate skills in the minds of the young people in schools. College and university lecturers should also do the same to make learning materials easily available and affordable on all courses and make sure they are subjected to review every three or five years to keep the knowledge seekers abreast with modern developments in their fields of studies. They should practicalise agricultural science and use it at college for experimentation purposes in institutions like National Agricultural Research Institute (NARI).
Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) and National Youth Service Scheme (NYSS) need to be strengthening to train more youths not only for blue collar jobs like constructions, mechanics but also in the area of fisheries, forestry and so on. Training of business students in the areas of management and marketing should be designed to enable students to make frequent field trips to private and public enterprises in order to understand the real situation of the business world so that when they go back to the classrooms they would be able to give better thought to their subjects.
National Training Authority (NTA) should use all its might conferred on them by an Act of the National Assembly to create and facilitate the availability of tertiary institutions in all major cities and towns all over the country to train people so as to reduce the menace of urbanization, which is a deterrent to the agricultural development of the country.
Newspapers and educational magazines need to be adequately used in schools and throughout the length and breath of the country to sensitize and educate people to engage youths in skill development trainings.
The government needs to be media friendly to boost and inculcate the culture of readying in the mind of the people, especially the school going young people.
It is only the wise who read and listen to people irrespective of their status, level of education and income and take the senses out of what is being said and make good use of what is consumable.
Our education sector needs to be proactive and technical rather than reactive and confusing. All what had been stated, if heeded to and adopted as seen in other countries, The Gambia will sooner than later be the Singapore of Africa. We should give our back to those signs of primary economic indicators and convert that primary production type of economy to tertiary productions type of economy and to export more than we import. That will enable us to enjoy favourable balance of payment. Education is therefore the most important sector of the national development irrespective of the size of the country and the level of development attained.
Author: Janneh S. Darboe