Recently on a boring Wednesday night, I decided to tune in to GRTS to keep up with happenings back home. It was good news! It was the inauguration of a three storey building for Gambia University medical school.
I was impressed and captivated by one man’s tall dream for his young and thriving university. Speaking through his Vice president Dr. Isatou Njie Saidy, Professor Jammeh reiterated his desire to transform his university into a world class university. While His Excellency Sheikh Professor Dr. Alhaji Yahya Jammeh’s renewed determination is very heartening; for there is no better investment in and for our country than education and developing the human resources of her people.
What baffles me though is one man’s dream for his country and university not backed by actions to really turn his university into a world class university. Turning U.T.G into a world class university is not a joke as it is not impossible .Didn’t that great thinker and philosopher James Allen say that “a man is literally what he thinks” and Manley Snergy thus added that “sow a thought, reap an act, sow an act reap a habit, sow a habit reap a character, sow a character and reap a destiny”. So thinking big is not a big deal boy; Jammeh; you just need to realize that you can’t make a great omelet without breaking eggs.
Building a first class university is no joke. Seriously; to build a first class university you need a first class Vice chancellor, first class thinking and first class facilities. As a former UTG student (I left after a semester though) and a frequent visitor to UTG campuses (Brikama,Faraba and Kanifing )What I see on the ground is not first class. You need to understand that where UTG gets to tomorrow is as a result of the investment, leadership and whatever good you put in. I know by now you know that whatever you put in life you get out and same applies to building a first class University.
You cannot lead a course for which you are not willing to give all you’ve got to give and even going beyond that. To start turning UTG into a first and world class University ;you need to ASAP put in place a vibrant E-library, build a world class excellence in research and dynamic ,concept driven curriculum relevant to our needs as a country and the world at large.
Having had the opportunity to visit and study world class Universities in US I’d say UTG is 175 years behind first and world class universities even though it produces world class graduates who go on to graduate schools and become professors in top Universities around the world(Prof Assan Sarr at Ohio State and many others). In fact it has done well to produce Newspaper Editors (My twin brother Sainey is a UTG LLB graduate and editor of Standard Newspaper), bank managers and skilled technocrats in many aspects of human endeavor. I give them credit for their personal drive and desire to succeed without which the idea of building a University would have been defeated due to the nepotism and poor leadership prevailing at UTG. UTG is in shambles with a VC (KAH) who repels seasoned and experienced Professors with his nepotism and intolerance for people with different and better view s on how to set UTG on course to becoming a world class university.
Over a year ago; I was shocked when I read him on the pages of Gambian papers paying tribute to Dr. Saja Taal (he taught me Political philosophy and intro to politics at UTG as a fresh man), a man he persecuted in life and glorify in death. That’s the extent of one man’s pretension and irony. For Ali Gumbo Touray’s case needn’t any mention because it’s an open secret to all.
As for my advice first and foremost; do whatever you do or think’ but please get this!! Fire professor Kah!!!!! Actually I’ve nothing against Prof. Kah, in fact, I love Professor Kah for his ability to convince Jammeh that he is actually working so hard to transforming UTG into a world class University (I admire his oratory and self-confidence). Build a robust ICT infrastructure now and give every admitted student a brand new lap top and create a new E-library. While building a new campus at Faraba is a fabulous move; you need to keep up with changes in education and start already thinking world class and 2015. Universities won’t be the way we know them in the next few years with massive open online courses offered by world class universities. Update the dusty and old Gambia college library with a modern and well equipped library.
Professor Jammeh, seriously you’re a real Jammeh Kundanka, how can you expect to produce world and first class scientists using labs built and equipped to train high school science teachers so please go ahead and upgrade those labs.
Ohhhhh; another thing before I forget, while it’s a good thing to invite Dr Zakir Naik (I love him dearly) why not pay and invite Nobel Laureates to lecture at UTG for a semester or two which will contribute to the production of knowledge at UTG and raise the world rankings of UTG which shamefully ranks below universities in the war ravaged Somalia. Ahhhh Somalia of all places for God’s sake. This is serious ‘deh’.
Finally; Gambia is endowed with highly respected and capable professors in world class universities abroad and putting in place incentives to bring them back home to contribute to transforming UTG into a world class University will be very meritorious. It’s working for Ethiopia and Rwanda already. In fact this brings to mind the recent lamentations of balding Gambian Professor (Dr. Saine, no pun intended Sir) about his country’s lack of preparedness to tackle the deadly Ebola virus. I was thinking of a graceful way to let him know; I strongly disagree but that’s to be addressed in another essay, another time.