These past few weeks I have been spending a lot of time at ‘karanbungo’ or, direct translation ‘learning house’. Our ‘classes’ include extensive sessions on medical awareness and prevention, safety and security, education in The Gambia, as well as many language sessions.
My favorite sessions are learning about the education system in the country, because it reminds me why I am here. To say the American Education system has flaws would be an understatement, but that is another topic entirely. Comparatively, as a future American educator, I will (hopefully) never complain again about lack of resources among other issues that will be faced. Don’t quote me on that, as it is easier to say from outside the system than within it.
Fast Facts About Education in The Gambia:
- The official language of the schools is English. However, I’ve heard that even many teachers need help in their English.
- Averaging two years, only approximately 18% of 3rd and 5th graders passed their English exams.
- There is one teacher-training program at the Gambia College, with a lot of applicants and limited space. The program is free for students that have passed their 12th grade English and math exams, and they are expected to serve in the public schools for 3-4 years after. Graduates of the program are ‘sent’, or assigned to their posts. That means many have to travel far away from their families and homes and go to a new community, which may even speak a different native language, without any choice. Some teachers find private school jobs on their own, which isn’t fair to the government that has invested in their education/training program.
- Not all teachers at the schools have gone through the training program, and many schools have a significant amount of untrained teachers.
- The government subsidizes’ girls’ education fees in order to promote girl’s education. Girls still have to be able to purchase their uniform in order to go to school.
I don’t yet know the backgrounds of the teachers I will be working with, but I hope they are receptive to learning new skills or developing their current skills.