Free education takes effect this September
The Basic and Secondary Education minister has reaffirmed that free education for students at the upper basic schools in The Gambia will take effect this September.
Fatou Lamin Faye was speaking to Daily Observer in an interview at one of the president’s groundnut fields in Kanilai last weekend where she led volunteers from her Ministry.
“The president has already declared free education from grades 1 to 12 and from this September, education will be free in all government upper basic schools. By next year, it will be free for senior secondary schools too,” she declared ahead of the start of 2014-2015 academic year. “So what the president wants is that from grades 1 to 12, children of this country, not just Gambians but for anybody who lives in this country and goes to a public school can attain education for free of charge,” she reiterated.
The minister went on to stress that Gambians should support the president’s farming activities because the products from his farms go to Jammeh Foundation for Peace, the President’s Empowerment of Girls Education Programme (PEGEP) and many other support initiatives.
She continued: “We as Gambians should not wait for His Excellency, the president to call us to come and help him on his farms. We are not coming here to help him; we are helping ourselves and our children. Even if he did not make the call, it is part of our calendar of activities to come to his farms every August. This is a good endeavour. Let us feed ourselves as the president rightly said, “you cannot call yourself independent when somebody is giving you the food you eat”. So I want to call on every Gambian to take this seriously and go back to the land and farm. Even if you don’t come here, find a place to go to and farm so that by 2016 we would be able to realise our dream”.
Minister Faye disclosed that her Ministry has already established a committee to look at school agriculture, indicating that they have already dispatched teams to go round the schools and inspect them. “They have grown various crops; in fact by next week I will be going to see some of the farms myself. I think that is the way to go. Before the 2016 call, we were talking about establishing a homegrown school feeding programme, so now it is within that bigger picture of the Vision 2016. We are very serious about it and we will do whatever it takes as a Ministry to make sure that we see ourselves in that agenda,” she assured.
This initiative, according to her, will ensure that kids eat healthy food that is suitable for them, food that they know and are locally grown. “This will also go beyond to benefit farmers because in collaboration with the World Food Programme (WFP), they are going to buy the product from the farmers to help the schools supplement whatever they grow in their own schools. So economically, it is going to help farmers. For me it is a worthy cause that I think every Gambian should support, and thank God a lot of Gambians have now heeded to His Excellency’s call to go back to the farm,” she concluded.
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