Written by Tseke Dooyum Stephanie.
Gambia is a small country located in the West of Africa. Like many developing nations, it has made progress in enhancing its educational system. Gambia has dedicated resources to making education accessible and affordable. This ensures that every child in Gambia can gain knowledge and impact society in one way or another. This is because education is said to be the beacon of development for every nation, and it should be provided to everyone for free and without discrimination. The fourth Sustainable Development Goal further echoes this, stating that everyone should receive an equitable, accessible, and high-quality education. This aligns with the Gambian government’s educationalpolicy, emphasising basic education is a right.
Educational Challenges in Gambia
Education, just like numerous sectors, is not without itschallenges. Several obstacles must be overcome to give all citizens access to high-quality education. As of 2023, Gambia faces several educational challenges that demand immediate attention and creative solutions. This article explores the most recent data on Gambia’s educational issues. It also examines their underlying causes and puts forth potential solutions. These challenges include-:
• Lack of Qualified and Experienced Teachers in Gambia
In Gambia, the lack of qualified teachers is a serious problem. Many teachers are not adequately trained or qualified to provide aneffective education. Only 57% of primary school teachers in Gambia are trained, this is according to a 2021 World Bank report. This shortage has an impact on the educationquality. It further raises student-teacher ratios, making providing individualised care and support harder. This has also been reported to cause compromised learning outcomes. Furthermore, a lack of professional development opportunities and adequate training for many teachers in Gambia has made it difficult for them to engage students and impart knowledge.
• Cultural Restriction
Cultural restrictions and values in Gambiarestrict both boys’ and girls’ educational opportunities at the community and family levels. These cultural norms include early marriage. It is more valued than education and career advancement in Gambia. Secondary education for girls is also highly compromised as some families push their teenage daughters to early marriage. They also move their teenage boys to Europe for riches to support their families due to the cultural expectation that boys are the family breadwinners.
• Inadequate Infrastructure and Resources
Inadequate school infrastructure and resources are among the main barriers to quality education inGambia. Many educational institutions struggle with outdated infrastructure, crammed classrooms, and a lack of basic supplies like textbooks, writing aids, and technological resources. The issue is made worse by the lack of access to facilities such as laboratories, which negatively affects the student’s learning capabilities. This makes the learning environment less than ideal, resulting in difficulty in understanding concepts.
• Outdated curriculum
The educational system in Gambia has come under fire for having an out-of-date curriculum that is only loosely in line with the needs of the nation’s development. Students’ capacity to effectively apply knowledge is constrained by the traditional rote learning techniques used in many schools, which impede the development of critical thinking and problem-solving abilities.
• Poor funding
Despite the significance of education, The Gambian educational sector receives little funding compared to other sectors. The lack of financial support hinders the provision of essential resources, the implementation of necessary reforms, and adequate teacher pay.
• Lack of access to education
The issue of access to education is one of the significant difficulties the Gambian educational system is currently facing. Disparities continue, especially between rural and urban areas, despite efforts to raise enrolment rates. According to the UNESCO Institute for Statistics, the net enrolment rate in primary education was 72% in 2021. In addition, there are still gender gaps, with fewer girls having access to education because of social and cultural constraints.
• To address the issue of lack of qualified and experienced teachers
The government must place a high priority on hiring, preparing, and keeping teachers to address the issue of the lack of qualified teachers in the nation. Competent educators can be attracted and retained by providing them competitive pay, professional development opportunities, and incentives for working in remote locations. The quality of education in the nation can also be improved by working with more international organisations and governments to offer teacher exchange and training programmes.
• To address cultural restriction.
The Gambian society can overcome this obstacle and find common ground by encouraging intercultural communication and empathy, debunking myths and fostering an open-minded and conducive learning environment. This can be accomplished through programmes that promote cultural exchange and diversity.
• To address the inadequate infrastructure and resources
To address this issue, more funds must be put into educational infrastructure and enough textbooks, technology, and sanitary facilities to create an environment conducive to learning.Partnerships between the public and private sectors can be crucial for giving schools the required tools and resources. Examining digital learning options can also increase access to educational materials and close the resource gap in remote areas.
• To address the outdated curriculum
The government should concentrate on curriculum reform and emphasise a practical and skill-based approach to education to raise the standard of instruction. A deeper understanding of subjects can be promoted by incorporating interactive learning tools, technology, and contemporary teaching methods.
• To address poor funding
Support for increased educational funding and effective budget allocation is required to address this issue. The government must prioritise education in its national budget and seek outside funding by forming alliances with international organisations and donor nations. An increase in the national budget’s education allocation is required to ensure sufficient funding for schools, teacher salaries, and educational development initiatives. Additionally, to maximise the impact of the funds, their management must be open and effective.Gambia can foster sustainable development and economic growth by increasing its investment in education.
• To address access to education
The Gambian government must focus on improving the infrastructure in rural areas and implementpolicies to support gender equality in education to address this issue successfully. The support and resources provided by Non-Governmental Organizations and international organisations are also essential in enhancing vulnerable groups’ access to education.
The education system in Gambia faces serious issues that require urgent attention and coordinated efforts from the government, civil society, and international partners.Gambia can create a robust educational system that empowers its people and advances sustainable development by addressing these problems. It can also pave the way for a better future for the Gambian people.
- Lynch, M. (2023) the 20 Biggest Challenges Facing Education In 2023.
- https://www.theedadvocate.org/the-20-biggest-challenges-facing-education-in-2023/ Retrieved on 29th July, 2023
- The Steve Sinnott Foundation (2020) Improving the quality and access to education in the Gambia. https://www.stevesinnottfoundation.org.uk/improving-the-quality-and-access-to-education-in-the-gambia Retrieved 29th July,2023
- The World Bank (2011) The Gambia education country status report. http://documents.worldbank.org/curated/en/284581468032133072/The-Gambia-education-country-status-report Retrieved on 29th July, 2023
- The World Bank & UNESCO (2022) Trained teachers in primary education in Gambia statistics. https://data.worldbank.org/indicator/SE.PRM.TCAQ.ZS?locations=GM Retrieved on 29th July, 2023
- United Nations Development Program (2021) Accelerating Education for Inclusive and Sustainable Development in The Gambia. https://www.undp.org/gambia/blog/accelerating-education-inclusive-and-sustainable-development-gambia Retrieved on 29th July, 2023
- United Nations children fund the Gambia(2018) Conflict analysis gambia peacebuilding education and advocacy. https://www.unicef.org/gambia/reports/conflict-analysis-gambia-peacebuilding-education-and-advocacy-2018 Retrieved on 29th July, 2023.
Cover image by Global Partnership for Education – GPE via Flickr