Gambia to Modernise, Integrate Quranic Memorization Centres into Education System

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By Biran Gaye

The Gambia governmentis set to introduce and integrate Quranic Memorisation (Tahfidh) into the country’s education system to restructure the Tahfidh towards providing not only Quranic memorization but quality and basic education.

This comes after fire outbreaks ravaged some memorization centres in recent years, particularly the incident that destroyed properties and killed student.

Organized by the Office of the President on Friday, the multi-stakeholders dialogue on modernization and integration of Tahfidh into the education sector of the Gambia aimed to map out ways to standardize the Quranic memorization centres.  

Ablaye Jarra, Permanent Secretary at the Office of the president while representing the secretary general and the head of the civil service, said the dialogue is informed by the need to synchronize efforts to modernize and integrate Tahfidh education in the country.

 “The intervention of the office of the president was triggered by a series of fire outbreaks in most of the centres, particularly the recent one that happened on 17 October 2021, claiming the lives of many people,” he said.

“Following an investigation into the matter, a task force was sanctioned at the office of the president to assess the conditions of all boarding schools as to whether they complied with the standards, appropriate infrastructure, and adequate safety precautions to evade a reoccurrence of such incidents.”

PS Jarra added that the task force also investigated ways to restructure the Tahfidh towards providing not only Quranic memorization but quality and basic education as it modernizes the facilities and expands the Tahfidh curriculum to integrate other languages and functional skills, science and technology and mathematics.

“The task force visited 136 Tahfidh centres across the country in May and August 2022. The report submitted to the president’s office shows that the visit covered 33% of the centres registered with AMAANAH. The report further reveals high social demand for Quranic education as evident in the significant number of out-of-school children enrolled in these centres, a total enrollment of 26,027 students of which 21,822 are male and 4199 are female,” he told the convergence of education experts, government officials and renowned scholars including former Supreme Islamic Council President ModouLamin Touray and IOU Founder Bilal Philips.

“There exist problems in the management of centres to the significant proportion of the school governance structure, is not available or not fully operational.”

Alhagie Essa Darboe, Secretary General of the General Secretariat for Islamic/Arabic Education in The Gambia (AMAANAH), the Quranic memorization centres are the most needed sector that needs the government’s intervention and donors working in the educational field.

According to AMAANAH statistics, there are over 700 centres registered with a population of 26,000 children with about 3.5% of the school-going age in the Gambia.

“It’s a big population and we need to help them to have quality education in this sector. We thank god that in terms of memorization, they are doing well because the Gambia participated in international competitions and many cases, and our children always emerge on top.

“We scored first last year in a competition that involved African countries and we won third position in an international competition in Saudi Arabia. They need support in terms of the national curriculum and skills,” he reported.

Tahfidh is a learning centre that enrols children to memorize the Quran within a period, emerging independent as a new form of Quranic teaching and learning, resulting in public demand.