Under the framework of the European Union-UNESCO capacity building project for journalist, several newspaper offices and two journalism training Schools received equipment amounting to several thousands of dollars. These equipment included desk tops computers, lap tops, digital cameras, photocopying machines and several other equipment, that enables these media outlets run their media functions and trainings.
Speaking at the occasion the director at the UNESCO regional office in Dakar, Mr. Gwang –Chol Chang said it is his organizations belief that freedom of expression and access to information in a country whose transition and growth will surely rely on an engaged and independent press the forth pillar of democracy is important. He told the gathering that UESCO sees these rights as crucial foundations of democracy, development and dialogue.
Chang said for peace to be lasting and development to be sustained, human rights must be respected. He urged that everyone must be free to seek, receive and impact knowledge and information on all media, online and offline.
He singled out the Gambia, as one of many countries around the world where, media professional often lack the necessary resources and capacities to exercise their activities.
The UN resident representative told the launching ceremony that the project was launched since October 2016 but due to the unwillingness of the former regime it could not take off. She said the new government have since expressed their willingness to respect freedom of expression and therefore we are here today to witness the handing over of the equipment to the beneficiaries.
She then told the journalists that now that the new government is opening its doors the onus is on them to become responsible journalist.
PS ministry of information, Mrs. Fatou Kineh Jobe deputising for the newly appointed minister, Demba Ali Jawo urged the beneficiaries to put the equipment to good use. The media she said is the fourth pillar of any democracy as such journalist should try to become responsible journalist.
The EU Ambassador Attila Lajos to the Gambia said this project was not possible earlier due to the authoritarian regime of former president Yahya Jammeh. He said critical and independent investigative press is the life blood of any democracy. He expresses the EU’s readiness to support the new government in the efforts to develop the nation.
Nana Grey Johnson of the UTG school of journalism said President Adama Barrow told the world during the recent independent anniversary that he will see that there is a free press in the country. Nana said this handing over the equipment is a testimony of that statement and thus we the journalist are now taken to task.
He urged the journalists to learn their trade; he said yes we can have the equipment, a free environment and get the right equipment but do we have the capacity to do the work? That is why he urges the journalist to learn their own trade.
The secretary general of the Gambia Press Union who represented the President spoke on behalf of the beneficiaries. He thanks the UNESCO for the provision of the equipment and promise that they will put the equipment to better usage.