The Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI), the Management Development Institute (MDI), Gambia College and the National Training Authority (NTA) in collaboration with City College in Birmingham, UK, yesterday started a two-day international conference at the Kairaba Beach Hotel, on the theme: progress through partnership; An experience of vocational education.
The conference is one of the major activities to be undertaken during 2007 within the framework of the memorandum of understanding that established a partnership between City College and its Gambian partner institutions.
The objective of the conference is to create a forum through which staff and students of partner institutions together with other stakeholders in The Gambia could interact with professionals and staff from the UK, Jamaica and the United States of America in a bid to share ideas and experiences.
In his keynote address, Abdoulie M Sallah, secretary of state for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, who represented the vice president, said the partnership between City College Birmingham and The Gambia is long standing, as it dates back 13 years ago, noting that since its inception in 1993, it has grown from strength to strength.
“Prior to 2002, the partnership was between City College Birmingham and the then Directorate of Technical Education and Vocational Training with the former providing opportunities for education and training at sixth form level and further education in the UK for Gambians,” he said.
SoS Sallah added that the partnership creates an avenue for students and staff exchange, staff development and training to improve learning outcomes, sharing aspects of curriculum development and extending partners’ knowledge and understanding of each other’s identities, among others. He said this new relationship is a true indication of a mutually beneficial North-South cooperation in which everyone stands to gain.
“It is my honest opinion that the representatives participating in the discussions in the next two days are men and women of wisdom and high calibre who can help realise the common hope and aspirations of our peoples and to consolidate the achievements made.
On our parts, be rest assured of the political will and commitment of government for this great partnership,” he said.
For her part, Fatou Lamin Faye, secretary of state for Basic and Secondary Education, pointed out that the quality of education and training can be tied to curriculum content and processes, saying that education and training systems must seek to develop relevant curriculae based on the needs of individual learners and that of their communities and nations.
She stressed that a curriculum needs to be learner-oriented as well as focused and expanded to fit into broader realms of knowledge, skills and competencies, noting that curricular processes must encourage research.
In her welcoming remarks, Ms Fatou Mbye, director of GTTI, thanked participants for taking time off from their busy schedules to attend the conference.
Other speakers included Henry Coore, chairperson of the Corporation City College, Birmingham and Professor Tony Henry.