Thursday, 17 August 2017

An Open Letter to the Vice Chancellor, University of The Gambia!

Dear Prof. Dr Faqir Muhammad Anjum,

I am writing this letter to you miles away from home with respect, profound esteem and admiration, I hope my letter will find you in a cheerful frame of attention and the finest, premium of spirits. It is probable that you may perhaps not get time to read this letter; even if you did manage this, I might not get a response from you. Yet I would like to pour my emotion out.

I’m writing this to you in the anticipation that perhaps it would make you step into the shoes of the students who currently are trapped between the devil and the deep blue sea, to bring to your notice about how massively confused they all are.

Of recent I learnt that the University of The Gambia is about to launch Ph.D. programs in various disciplines. As an alumni  of the UTG I think it is  quiet important to bring to your attention matters that need to be solve before embarking on Ph.D. programs in order to make the University of The Gambia a world class university in the sub region and the world at large.

I don’t deny the fact that The University of The Gambia has produced many intellects, brains and will continue to produce who are able and competent enough to compete in the Marketplace of ideas and world market of recruitment as far beyond Pluto. But despite the fact of all those efforts we still need to double up and tight our belts for a better university we dream.

The other point is that conducting examinations in a rough mode exacts a terrible price. Ideally, examinations should and must examine and determine the nature and depth of learning of a pupil. In other words, it should be a component of quality education. However, here the motto of getting qualitative education is not observed. If we continue on the same path, we will find ourselves in a fool’s paradise with vacant minds and degrees clinging to hands. These circumstances have compelled students to think – and who knows some might have previously done – of leaving their bachelors whereas some want to go with the flow.  What excellent features this will pass on to our education system is unambiguously clear to all.

In reality, what happens at the UTG is that students, in attempting to reach their target in a meager time leave topics remain untouched and in this context students take recourse to   “Ratification” – memorizing anything without understanding it- to reach their parents expectations.  What ensues is what may be called the trap and vortex of repulsive percentage. Undoubtedly, this trend will not confer any laurels to our educational picture.

Both lecturers and student find it difficult to access the internet which is a top priority in the world of academia. Since we are in the 21st century where most of the thing are done through internet I see no reason why that priority shouldn’t be provided at the UTG. Similarly, there is no dedicated computer laboratory for UTG students and internet speeds are slow, limiting downloads.

The average students at the University of The Gambia are facing problems coping with the annual increment on tuition fees associated with university education in the Gambia.

The toilet condition of the university campus are very bad which both students and lecturers find it very difficult to use. I remember my first day when I visited the toilet at MDI campus I asked my self is this the university we dream and want to see.

The teaching/learning space is very crucial in education. Challenges related to infra-structure include classroom space, poor internet connectivity, interrupted electricity, and lack access to peer-reviewed journal articles. The current infrastructure at both programs needs expansion in order to accommodate the increasing number of students at bachelor’s level.

There are few LCD projectors and no interactive boards. Furthermore, equipment in the skill laboratories are very paramount in learning, these need updating to meet current standards and include mannequins, patient beds, and basic nursing equipment (sphygmomanometers, weighing scales, thermometers, etc.) for an adequately functioning skills lab. Simulation facilities are available but have older models. The libraries at both programs need upgrading as many of the text books and journals are outdated by ten or more years. Some of the books in these schools are donated by student alumni association or individual in the Diaspora.

For now the UTG should be working on how to improve their B.Sc. programs. There is no need for the rush. Most of us know what and how it takes to earn a degree in the UTG, the need to establish a research department is apparent. Students would often graduate without writing research papers because of many reasons. Is just irrational to jump up to offering Master’s program, much more PhD.

At this point in time, the government as a stakeholder should concentrate in regulating the tertiary educational system by reducing the number of secondary schools and increasing vocational institutions throughout the length and breadth of the country. This is good because it will address the skills shortage in the country and prepare youths with lifelong skills.

Taking initiatives to refine education without the resources that needs to be implemented is wholly unrealistic and ensues as a misery in disguise on students. A case in point is the “Ph.D.” proposed program. There is not a single reason for what one should appreciate this opinion. The initiative has turned out ordinary to burn a hole in students’ pockets without giving them a good education in return.

Thank you

By: Saidina Alieu Jarjou

Alumni University of The Gambia
School of Business and Public Administration
Class of 2013

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