By Momodou Jarju
The Minister of Basic and Secondary Education has on Wednesday confirmed that even though they have paid several millions of dalasi to Gambia College and University of The Gambia, they still owe them millions.
Madam Claudiana Cole told parliamentarians: “We managed to pay the University of The Gambia nine million dalasi out of the twenty-three million dalasi owed. In the case of the Gambia College, thirty-nine million dalasi have been paid leaving a balance of forty million.”
Answering a question posed by Assan Touray, National Assembly member for Bakau on the second ordinary session of the National Assembly in the 2019 legislative year, Minister Cole said timely settlement of tuition fees for tertiary institutions is a priority to her ministry especially the Gambia College and UTG who facilitate the implementation of their policy of continuous capacity development of teachers.
“However, due to limited budgetary allocations, our arrears with these institutions accumulated over the years and towards the end of 2018, the sector engaged the ministry of finance and economic affairs with the support of the National Assembly select committee on education,” the minister said.
The Gambia College in particular has been in the news lately with lecturers of the school going on strike twice this year demanding for timely payment of salaries and increment of allowances. The students on the other hand planned to demonstrate against the failure of the administration to pay lecturers. However, the students aborted their plan after their consultation with authorities bore fruits resulting in lecturers resuming work.
Speaking further, Madam Cole said the select committee recommended her ministry to factor the entire arrears in the 2019 budget proposal which was done, but it was not reflected in the final budget.
For Gambia College, Minister Cole said they have negotiated with their partners to pay the whole amount from their Education Sector Support Project and payment is currently being process to be effected before the end of the month.
“I crave the support of this august body for adequate budgetary provision for capacity building, including the arrears owed to the University of The Gambia in the 2020 budget,” she added.
In-service training for teachers
Minister Cole said her ministry continues to invest in the human capital development of its employees especially through in-services training of teachers. She was responding to Magassy’s question on whether MoBSE was committed to conducting in-service training for teachers to close the gaps created by the private schools in terms of mass movement of government trained teachers as well as top government officials sending their children to private schools.
“Currently, 244 teachers are doing their in-service training at the Gambia College for the Advanced Diploma Primary and 206 teachers for the Advanced Diploma Secondary. Whilst at the level of the University of The Gambia, MoBSE is sponsoring 316 teachers in different areas of specialty and MRC Holland Foundation is also sponsoring 103 teachers,” he said.
Minister Cole rebutted the claim that there is mass movement of government trained teachers to private schools, saying the number is minimal now.
She added that teacher attrition has ceased to be an issue and even some of the teachers that left are returning, among which the ministry has to select.
The veteran educationist also revealed that not all private schools out-performed public schools.
“In fact, recent trends of results both at the level of GABECE and WASSCE have shown that most of the public schools are doing better than many private schools,” she said.