Dear Prof. Dr Faqir Muhammad Anjum,
I hope this letter finds you well. This letter is sent in connection with the recent call for admission that was recently advertised in the newspaper.
“The University of the Gambia is pleased to invite applications for admission into the following Post Graduate Degree Programs tenable at the University of The Gambia, commencing 2017/2018 Academic year · MSc–Economics, MSc-Business Administration, MSc-Chemistry, MSc-Physics, MSc-Biology, PhD- Biology, MSc- Agriculture, MSc- International Relations and Diplomacy, MA-English”.
It is in this regard that I write to you once again informing you about the challenges faced by students and lecturers at the University of The Gambia.
The Gambia has a population of over 1.8 million people and the dream of owning a national university was only actualized via the passion of former President Yaya Jammeh. He believed that it was imperative for the people of Gambian to have a quality higher education. It was this passion combined with his resilience that brought the university into being in 1999 through a legislation of the National Assembly.
Education is one of the most important instruments of change in any society. And in order for any fundamental change to occur in terms of intellect and social outlook in a society, it has to be proceeded by an educational revolution. The term education comes from the Latin word e-ducere meaning “to lead out.” Education is referred as the process of imparting or acquiring general knowledge, developing the powers of reasoning, and judgment, and generally of preparing oneself or others intellectually for mature life.
In the University of The Gambia, one of the fundamental challenges faced by the school of nursing is the shortage of faculty members due to the brain drain of highly qualified and educated nurses migrating from their home country to countries with higher salaries and better working conditions. Secondly, the reason why we have a reduction in the number of people enrolling in this program is that the nature of the work is too demanding with far less pay. Furthermore, there are only a few lecturers who have been trained in with a postgraduate certificate/ degree in nursing education.
Another challenge encountered is the lack of clinical tutors. Nursing students are posted to health facilities to be supervised and assisted by senior nursing officers in the clinical area who tend to be too busy to attend to the learning needs of these students thus, leaving a big gap to be filled.
The teaching/learning space is very crucial in nursing education. Challenges related to infrastructure 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 particularly when other programs such as the medical and public health classes are held simultaneously. The classes can accommodate about 40 students but in the recent past, the intake number has increased. There are few LCD projectors and no interactive boards.
The University doesn’t have up to date books, most of the books in the main library were outdated before I was born. During my time as a student at the University from 2010-2013, there was never a day when the internet allowed me to download reading materials.
Professor as an Alumni of the University of The Gambia I will not waste any iota of time to see my Alma Mata sinking like the great Titanic in broad day light.
I will submit to you that many of the students stand to have their lectures as a result of the inadequate chairs. The lecture rooms are not conducive in which both the lecturers and the students find it difficult to cope with the situation.
There is the need for basic furniture for lectures to take place, the environment needs to be conducive to learning and as it stands the boards are so old. There needs to be developed with regard to learning, the times have changed and in the 21st century, there is a necessity for the use of technology in the classroom. The University still lacks basic projectile or video presentations of important lectures. In a nutshell, there is zero use of latest technological innovations to help students at the university in their learning.
Additionally, the information technology needs to be updated within the university, there needs to be a strategic plan to come up with a software that will enable students to access their transcript in various departments of the university. It is totally unethical and inhumane for the students to travel all the way from Brikama to Kanifing only to collect their transcripts.
Please be informed that to attain quality and standards one needs to follow the ladder as such will enable you to be the best among the best. The University needs a total transformation of the education system to suit the current national needs and also meet global standards.
However, if we want to have better educational system where students learn to develop themselves and strive hard to learn the values of life, we must focus our energy and resources on the university where it all began.
We must have the right people with right qualifications at the university and people who are honest, decent, and determined to ensure that our brothers and sisters are successful in their education.
To be continued…….
Saidina Alieu Jarjou
Cc: The President of the Republic of The Gambia
Minister of Higher Education Research Science and Technology
UTG Governing Council and Senate
The President UTGSU.