By Momodou Baka Dem
A nation that had broken the colonial ties with its colonial master for over 54 years ago is having its rural children shed invisible tears- tears of the making of their leaders.
Tears of inequality and neglect! After 54 years of nationhood, the country through its leadership cannot accord the children in the rural areas the true meaning of independence.
They are left to feel the pain of colonial rule even after decades of nationhood. These children are feeling the pinch of their leaders’ lack of consideration of their plight. They are made victims of ineffective and inefficient leaderships.
The story is told of rural communities who wish to school their children but lack the facilities to prepare these young brains. A visit to Sare Bojo, in the Upper River Region, would explain the reality of rural communities and their children in their pursuit for education.
The desire to learn, the desire to become better individuals in the future, the desire to uplift the socioeconomic status of their parents and communities is written on the faces of the children. But behind these faces, are fading hopes and lost dreams. Not caused by themselves or desired by their parents, but instituted by governors who loot their fathers’ hard-earned collections in the name of taxes, yet refuse to let the children feel the worth of their parents’ collections.
It saddens the soul that children in their quest for knowledge are forced to learn in the open because there are no structures to call classrooms. They are forced to endure the pain in the acquisition of knowledge because the human resource to guide them through the tedious journey is not present. They are forced to see education as a voluntary activity because authorities have failed to provide them the facilities to stimulate their interest and understanding that education is a necessity and fundamental right.
Governors in their attempt to seek political prominence prostitute the dreams of these children. They play foul on the minds of their parents through the words of politics. The governors are thieves of hopes and dreams. When shall they live by their words?
Policy statements are created, funds are pumped in by donors and partners but the policies are only good in black and white while the funds continue to benefit the very fortunate few at the top. When then shall this nation give its rural children the worth of independence?
The governors in their policies said they seek to achieve equality in the education system.
This is nothing but a story in the rural communities. They fake donors with statistics of the suffering-many in the rural areas yet continue to use the funds on baseless, ineffective and non-results generating workshops.
What a better way to hold the governors to account, when they continue to open schools by declarations and fail to put up structures for the kids. What a better way to question the sincerity of the governors when they say education is their governments’ priority but fail to provide schools with adequate teaching and learning resources. Would knowledge reach the children from divine intervention??
These sad narratives of a country that has attained nationhood should change for the better. Our governors must cease to delude our elders and prostituting our children. Individuals masking as activists should walk out of their comfort zones and workshop activism and be seen raising the voices of the rural children. Let’s live their stories! Authorities must cease to use the services of individuals and fail to recognize or remunerate them according to the worth of their service. What opens a school doesn’t keep the school up and running. Thus, let authorities cease the declarations and be in action.
Our children should not and must not suffer to get educated. Let there be parity in the education system. We must not continue to sit and fold our hands seeing our future generations been doomed by the very people we chose to bring us the change.
The change has to happen and should happen now.
Momodou Baka Dem is a young Gambian writer and a community radio journalist.