SYSTEMATIC CORRUPTION THREATENS GAMBIA’S EDUCATION SECTOR

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If corruption is not halted, we will soon return to pre-colonial educational system.

If corruption is not halted, we will soon return to pre-colonial education system.

By Lamin Fatty – Banjul Correspondent.

Quality education continues to drastically free-fall in the Gambia, as rampant and systematic well institutionalised corruption takes toll at the country’s education sector, threatening the future of hundreds of thousands of children in the west African nation, an insider revealed to Kibaaro News’ Banjul desk.

Our source hinted that it is now an open secret that, despite the proliferation of schools in the past two decades by the Jammeh administration, the quality of teaching and learning has stubbornly continues to lay flat on its back in the Gambia, refusing to rise up; as a result of corruption and neglect by the Government. The public schools are highly under funded and it is increasingly becoming a worrisome for the majority of the country’s poor parents, who cannot send their children to the few private schools in the country.

In 2014, the country started implementing a multimillion dollar United Nations funded educational empowerment programme called “School Improvement Grant”(SIG). This project calls for universal access to basic “Education for All” from Lower Basic to Senior Secondary levels.

However, it appears the purpose of this life changing initiative will be defeated, unless drastic actions are taken against a deeply rooted corruption within the education sector, including senior policy and program officials, regional education directors, cluster monitors and headteachers.

According to our source close to the corridors of power; as part of the project, each school is allocated with a special budget and an account aimed at the improving the teaching and learning of that school. However, it is under this budget that headteachers and cluster monitors with the “rubber stamp” approval of the regional directors, embezzle monthly budgets worth hundreds of thousands of Dalasis. Sometimes bare handwritten documents are produced as invoices for materials needed towards “maintenance” of schools.

Our sources warned that if the practice continues unabated, the dream of thousands of innocent poor children’s will remain an illusion.

They blamed it on the virtual absence of check and balance mechanism in the government to enable accountability and transparency. Our source indicated that sometimes monthly maintenance budgets are fabricated in the pretext of trying to buy Laptops, printers, packets of corrugated iron sheets, bags of cements, etc , worth hundreds of thousands of Dalasis, which end up being shared among senior education officials.

This is done at the expense of hardworking teachers, whose financial situation is not assisted by their meagre salary of Four Thousand Dalasis (4,000) per month or (£64 per month) for Higher Teacher Certificate holders, after three years of training at the country’s only national college. The teachers are meant to benefit from SIG, but instead it is their heads that are profiting it all.

Our source lamented that: “those in charge of overseeing the nurturing of good moral virtues, honesty, sincerity and patriotism, into the minds of our children, are in fact the masterminds behind a systemic campaign to defeat the long yearn destinies of many poor children in the country”.


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