By Momodou Jarju
Civic education simply means educating the masses about their rights and responsibilities.
In The Gambia, a National Council for Civic Education (NCCE) is mandated by the 1997 Constitution to lead this crusade.
But the Council’s efforts have been marred with challenges two of which include inadequate financial and human resources to fulfill its national duty.
It is against this backdrop that young Gambians yoked together and formed a movement to champion a national call.
With close to 100 official members, the Youth Movement for Civic Education (YMFCE) registered with AG Chambers on November 4th, 2019 and the National Youth Council on June 25th, 2020.
Founded in mid-2019 by Unusa Sambou, YMFCE has also been recommended by the Brikama Area Council to operate within the West Coast Region (WCR).
Sambou, a teacher cum youth leader, was inspired to form the Movement because he noticed that majority of the youth in the country do not know their civic rights and responsibilities.
“I want to make sure that civic awareness is at the door step of every citizen in the Gambia,” he said.
Asked whether they do collaborate with the NCCE, Sambou, who lives at Fajikunda Bajonkoto, responded in the positive.
He said they have met with the Council three times and ‘they give us good advice’. The Council recognized their existence and they are working on signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with them.
“They promised to work with us and they also told us anytime we need advice, we call them,” he said. Embedded in their scheme are plans to holding cleaning exercise, establishing Civic Clubs in various schools, organizing debates on civic awareness, among others.
Their first cleaning exercise dubbed Setsetal was conducted at Westfield which was successful. Their plan to hold another cleansing exercise was derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
They have plans to conduct civic awareness activities in schools and communities.
Members’ Capacity Building
The movement has organized three capacity building programs for its members since its formation.
And they were working on organizing a fourth training, but the Covid-19 pandemic surfaced and halted their activities.
The conducted trainings were themed on leadership, patriotism, guidance and counseling.
Asked whether their members are cognizant of their rights and responsibilities, Sambou responded in the affirmative. According to him, the members they have trained to be trainers focus more on matching responsibilities with rights.
Most of the members who underwent training on civic education, know their rights and responsibilities.
The Movement is now targeting people at the grassroots level and that is why they are creating civic clubs in schools, because they are the present and future generation of the country.
The youth leader meanwhile said lack of support is the main challenge they are grappling with as an association and thus appealed for help from people.
The Secretary General of YMFCE, Ebrima Secka joined the movement to enhance civic awareness among the masses in the country. He holds the view that many people do not know their rights and responsibilities in the country.
Secka, a final year student at The Gambia College, said promoting the culture of peace is also part of the Movement’s objective, and as a Movement, they are cognizant of the fact that their intention would be challenging to fulfill, but they are banking on the determination and dedication everyone is showing to achieve their mission.
For now, they are effective only in the Kombos but their aim is to operate within the four corners of The Gambia.
Their plan is to divide themselves into regions headed by regional coordinators.
Mariama Jammeh is the Public Relations Officer of YMFCE, The Gambia College chapter.
Born on 5th July, 1999, Jammeh is pursuing Advance Diploma Secondary Certificate in English and S.E.S at The Gambia College School of education.
Jammeh, also an aspiring writer and poetess, said the Movement was created as a result of the low level of civic awareness amongst the youth.
“This is done through the various activities that are organized to enforce the recognition of civic roles and responsibilities within The Gambia,” she said.
YMFCE hopes to see a Gambia whose youth are responsible and well immersed in their roles and responsibilities as citizens.
Aside from educating the people about their rights and responsibilities, the Movement envisages instilling a culture of patriotism in the youth.
Jammeh observed that they have been facing financial problems since they started the implementation of their plans.
But despite this shortcoming, they maneuvered through the labyrinth to ensure they carry out their plans.
“We took it as a responsibility and contributed from our pockets in order to fulfill the responsibilities that we’ve taken up. This is to see that our youth become better and responsible citizens,” she said.
The Movement is thus calling on Samaritans and organizations to help them promote civic awareness across the country. The Gambia Government is also implored to render support to this effect.