By Momodou Jarju
The Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI) would be mentored for five years by the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology (KNUST) in Kumasi, Ghana as part of its transformation to become a university.
The technical college would be called University of Science, Engineering and Technology (USET).
For a start, four programmes have been proposed, including civil engineering, electrical/ electronic, geomatrics engineering and mechanical engineering.
There are plans in few years ahead, to introduce courses like medicine, pharmacy, nursing, construction, economic and management, etc.
The permanent secretary, Yaya Sireh Jallow, speaking on behalf of the ministry of higher education research science and technology, Badara Joof, said the four-year BScs engineering programmes were the key disciplines jointly identified under the World Bank’s ACE project which started about three years ago.
He was speaking at a day-long consultative meeting with education stakeholders at a local hotel in Kololi on Wednesday.
Both GTTI and KNUST are beneficiaries of the ACE project and GTTI is an emerging center of excellence in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) education, Mr. Jallow said.
“GTTI would be mentored by KNUST for an initial period of five years as in the strategic areas as already mentioned,” Jallow said.
For the first intakes, the tuition fee is free, according to the Director General of GTTI Edward C. Mansal. The ministry of higher education would sponsor the intakes.
PS Jallow said the teaching faculty of the degree programs would come mainly from KNUST while Gambian lecturers from both the industry and GTTI would understudy their Ghanaian colleagues during this period.
He emphasized that the KHUST programs are not meant to replace the current TVET Programs being run in GTTI.
“In fact, these BScs engineering programs were muted to complement and consolidate the already existing TVET courses being conducted by GTTI,” he said.
He said the intended size class for each of the four programs being introduced is 30 students and already, they have received over 150 applications, adding the degree program includes heavy practical works at GTTI and through internship and apprenticeship in relevant industries both in the private and public enterprises in The Gambia.
“To avoid producing armchair engineers, students under the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology would also gain practical and skills training from the industry in their respective areas of study,” he said.
Vice Chancellor of KNUST, Professor Kwasi Obiri Danso, said being recognized as the best university in the sub-region, they are committed to making GTTI the best university in the country
“There is an American group, is about 86 years old, recently it ranked Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology as the best university in West Africa. We are also 14 best university in Africa,” he said.
Prof. Danso said they are not here by chance and that 98 percent of engineers in Ghana and across the sub-region were trained by them, noting that The Gambia hasn’t made a bad choice.
“Ours is science and technology and the STEM programmes we have the best and therefore if you want us to be part of this process, we will make sure that you are the best. And that is why to begin the process, we are bringing all our quality best engineers to come and teach them on the ground here. We would sacrifice that. We are not here for money, no! But being part of a process that in the future everybody would look up to us and say we make sure that Gambia also became the best in West Africa,” he said.
Prof. Danso further said university must be research focused and as such, they would make sure that all lecturers and students have research topics to work around with to make sure that they write and publish in the best of journals, so that at least, they would get it right from the word go.
He also said KNUST certificates would be issued to the graduates and the programme is expected to start by January 2020 with 120 students at least.