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“Our Educational System Is Not Fit For Purpose” – UTG Lecturer Essa Njie

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Essa Njie
UTG Political Science Lecturer

By Landing Ceesay 

Political Science Lecturer, University of the Gambia (UTG), Mr. Essa Njie said Gambia’s education system is ‘not fit for purpose’, as it produces job seekers, instead of job creators, and needs restructuring to suit the realities.

Mr. Njie made the remarks on the Kerr Fatou show on 18th August while reacting to the 2022 WASSCE performance deemed poor by many nationwide.

“I have a different opinion from the rest of mankind as far as this whole WASSCE saga is concerned. I am the least bothered about grades and marks…I am interested in you knowing, and how this knowledge will benefit you and benefit your society. 

“This is how we need to think, and the saddest thing is that, we get our people through this educational system, we produce job seekers, not job creators. Even those with 9As when they graduate, what do they expect, even if they get Suma Cum Laude from the University of the Gambia? They go and pick a form at the Personal Management Office (now Ministry of Public Service), and fill it. Then you appoint them in an office, at the end of the month you give them D6,000 or D5,000. They are not able to contribute meaningfully to the society,” he argued. 

The outspoken lecturer said he watched the interviews granted by MoBSE PS and Deputy PS on GRTS who made their own arguments, but suggested the officials to first qualify what’s failure and pass. 

“I think the conversation around the educational system should have been how do we make our educational system relevant to our realities. Rather than pass, fail, credit, and take those with 5 credits, or 9 credits as smart ones; those with 2 credits and 3 credits as none smart. I think this itself is a problem,” He said. 

Mr. Njie described it as “problematic” and “colonial education system” people’s perception that the more people pass with more As, or more credits shows that Gambia’s education system is good; and the fewer people or more have failed shows that the country’s education system is having a problem.

“That (people’s perception) itself is problematic, and people need to change their mindsets. Those are colonial education systems brought to Gambia still being used,” he reacted. 

The political commentator said it is not bad, using the language of colonial authorities and everything, but it should be used in a way that suits the country’s reality. 

“How do we produce our own engineers? How do we produce our own carpenters? How do we produce our own athletes? Footballers in our education system, we should be able to cater for these people. Not everybody is a classroom material. Not everybody should go to University,” Mr. Njie noted. 

Essa who lectures at the University of the Gambia said sometimes he has students in his class who are not supposed to be in the class. 

“Some of them will have no idea what I’m talking about. That is why when we give them exams, they fail because they are not interested in what we are teaching them. Imagine standing in front of somebody, teaching the person about realism, liberalism, marxism all these theories, the Socrates, the Aristotle, and that person has no interest in what Aristotle had done, what Socrates has done, what Machiavelli has done, or what Morgenthau has said about realism and liberalism, (the student) is not interested, and you should assess that student on that (course) exam. When the person fails, you say he is not smart or intelligent,” Mr. Njie said.

The political science lecturer said those students might be talented in sports, like Gina Bass who is taking the country’s flag to higher heights, although she is not a University material.

“So why do we say everybody must have this number of credits to be in the University? We need to start rethinking. People are talented in different areas,” Njie pointed. 

The UTG Political Science Lecturer said some of those students not interested in classroom learning might be talented in swimming, in football, in athletics, in carpentry, and something else. 

He said Development is multi-faceted, multi-dimensional, and a holistic approach and that everybody has a role to play and that is why people are moving today.

The Tallinding-born Kiang-origin referenced star footballers doing well in sports one of whom is Sadio Mane, who did not complete high school education, but is immensely contributing to the development of his country, Senegal.

“He built a hospital, built a school, (and) built a stadium. He is the first Senegalese footballer to have done that. He is giving allowances to every family in his village (Bambali in Casamance); trying to uplift the living standard of the people of his community. So, we should start rethinking. Our educational system is not fit for purpose. We need to restructure our educational system. Yes, it is not bad we assess these results, but also we need to start moving forward, and start thinking of restructuring,” Mr. Njie suggested. 

The educationist further said all what people are saying about the cause of poor results are just speculations. 

“I don’t have answers to factors responsible for the poor WASSCE results, and even the Deputy PS of MoBSE doesn’t have the answer,” he said. 

The outspoken UTG Lecturer said the Gambia needs to engage in research because this (poor WASSCE performance) has been happening for the past few years. 

“We could have tasked our educationists, our experts to say, you know what, we want research to be done, things are not proactive,” Essa Njie said. 

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