I wish to use your widely followed platform to introduce the above topic “Gambia, a new approach to education” to provoke constructive dialogue amongst Gambians concerning our educational system.
For many years, I have been observing a certain advantage trend in conventional schools or English schools to be precise. Discerning a perspicacious analysis of my observation, I have come to believe that generally, people with Islamic Religious or Quranic/BK knowledge always perform well when they join the English School. It is in fact, no exaggeration to deduce that Quranic education gives extra advantage to the contenders in English schools over those with little or no religious knowledge. I always perceive and held this conviction whiles in the Gambia and belief became even more prominent and emphatic during my mingling with Ghanaian students, particularly those from Muslim backgrounds.
In Northern Ghana, many primary and junior secondary Schools operate on English-Arabic basis, I.e. they teach English and Islamic studies on equal footing. Say for example, children would learn the English subjects from morning till midday and after break they would do Islamic subjects for the rest of the day and vice versa. This way, children developed in both Religious and conventional knowledge and became fluent in both Arabic and English. When they proceeded to the senior secondary and university they always shine in the limelight. In fact, one such student, whom I always remember and cherish, Mohammed Hafiz went on to read English, Arabic and French in the GCE A’ Levels. Amazing, isn’t it?
In fact, in Gambia, schools like that of Alh Banding Drammeh and the likes are golden testimonies to the veracity of this fact. I am therefore of the opinion that when Gambia introduces English-Arabic/Bible knowledge as a new system of education, commencing of course, from a particular year and by a particular set of primary school children. This would instil a new dimension in our teaching and learning, inspire our religious aspirations and greatly enhance our way forward as a nation. It would better improve our human resource capacity and widen the participation in the Parliament and other branches of government, which are currently dominated by English oriented graduates, whiles limiting our Arabic intellectuals to the classroom. Religious understanding, sincerity, honesty and loyalty are fundamental in effective socio-economic development and nation building. As such, I hereby propose that the Gambia consider introducing ‘English-Arabic’ as our new national educational system.
Alh Yahya Ceesay