By Momodou Jarju
The Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology is stirring plans for the completion and operationalization of the Ndemban Multi-Purpose and Skills Vocational Training Centre in Foni, West Coast Region.
This was said by Badara Alieu Joof, the minister of the aforesaid ministry on Wednesday, while appearing before the lawmakers in Banjul at the second ordinary session of the national assembly in the 2020 legislative year.
His remark was in response to the Member for Foni Brefet Sunkary Badjie, who asked him to inform the assembly on the timeframe for the completion and operationalization of the aforementioned skills center.
In his response, Minister Badara Joof said: “We have nine (9) million dalasis budget for Ndemban skills centre and intend to start with automotive, welding and fabrication, carpentry, horticulture within the next few months.”
The public officer said they will consult representatives from Ndemban and its environs plus the national assembly member for that constituency when the time arrives.
Minister Joof said he has consulted his staff and had planned to invite Sunkary Badjie, the constituency representative, last Friday together with some members of the assembly to kick start the project.
“But we are also expecting certain funding so we wanted to get that funding before you are invited,” he added.
Joof however said they are anticipating they would commence work now against September with the hope that Covid-19 eases up.
Musa Amul Nyassi, Foni Kansala lawmaker asked Minister Joof’s opinion as to whether the 9 million dalasis earmarked for the Ndemban’s project would be able to complete the work and get the multi-purpose centre operational.
Minister Joof responded in the negative.
He remarked: “Certainly not because the curriculum would expand and we had asked for more, but the constraints of the budget did not allow Finance (Ministry) to give us what we asked for; so for a start we are starting with nine (9) million and that is why I said that we are in consultation with other development partners to help us in this area.”
Halifa Sallah, Serrekunda lawmaker asked the minister to inform the assembly whether there would be any linkage in terms of providing small skills funding for the graduates of the training centres.
Minister Joof responded in the positive, saying the training will be done in such manner that people in the entrepreneurial areas will be the resource persons to the centres.
This he believed will ensure the relevance of the training in the world of work.
Brikama South lawmaker, Lamin J. Sanneh asked the minister whether his ministry has received the nine million dalasis that has been approved for the Ndemban project.
Minister Joof responded in the negative, saying the money is with the ministry of finance and economic affairs.
He said they will make the request for the funds at the appropriate time.
“But before we make the request, certain things have to be done which the ministry from its own resources took with the army to clear the place and do certain things,” he said.
Wuli West lawmaker, Sedia Jatta inquired the possibility of thinking through the framework of regional perspective, because they cannot afford the project funding, to make it more effective and efficient.
Minister Joof said Jatta’s proposition could be an option, saying the constraint is a political expedient because every national assembly member wants his or her constituency to have a multi-purpose skills centre.
Joof further said mobility and accommodation are other constraints they would grapple with if the proposition is employed.
“So considering these constraints, it might be a challenge to go for that option. But certainly that is one thing you could do in a strategic centre where people would and it is more effective and efficient,” he said.