While The Gambia is one of the smallest countries in Africa — with just less than 2.5 million residents — the value of education is clear, even if achieving quality education for all is still a challenge.
“People understand why they need to go to school and its direct impacts on their futures – like being able to live in a house and not a temporary structure, being able to speak English. The benefits and impacts of education are clear even to the youngest learners in The Gambia and it is something they yearn for,” explains Emily Joof, Associate Director of Programs at Luminos, who is based in Banjul.
At the request of The Gambian government, based on our unique expertise and program track record worldwide, Luminos is providing curriculum development support and advisory services to the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) and co-creating a practical plan that will ensure all out-of-school primary-aged children in The Gambia receive a second chance at education.
“Every child deserves to be given the opportunity to explore and realize their full potentials through schooling,” says Mr. Momodou Jeng, Director of Curriculum Research Evaluation and Development Directorate at MoBSE and a key partner to Luminos. “This is my conviction.”
“Every child deserves to be given the opportunity to explore and realize their full potentials through schooling. This is my conviction.”
Mr. Momodou Jeng, Director of Curriculum Research Evaluation and Development Directorate at MoBSE
“When you look at the numbers of out-of-school children in the country, we are confident we can get 50,000 kids into school and learning,” says Emily. “This is a solvable problem.”
Although funding for education is scarce compared to the needs, teachers in The Gambia are fully committed to their students. Their passion often extends beyond the classroom, as they tend to wear many hats: nurturer, caregiver, health worker – even nutritionist.
However, there is a long road ahead. Public classrooms tend to be bare. Unlike Luminos classrooms, there are no colorful posters on the wall, no markers, pens, and few, if any, books for the students. Teachers need a user-friendly accelerated curriculum suitable for out-of-school and vulnerable children, as well as regular training, resources, and support.
“Regardless of how excellent our curriculum may be, if teachers don’t know how to teach it, it’s all for naught. Teacher training will be critical for The Gambia,” says Emily.
Mr. Jeng (center, in suit jacket) visiting a Luminos classroom in Liberia as part of the MoBSE learning trip.
In 2022, Luminos invited The Gambia’s MoBSE to visit our programs in Liberia, where they had an opportunity to see the benefits of continuous training and feedback for teachers.
“After each teacher training session, teachers would be prompted: What went well, and what didn’t go well? It is really important that we have relationships built on trust, because if not, we won’t be able see the transformation we want to see,” explains Emily.
For Emily, who recently moved back to The Gambia to work with Luminos, her interest in education is deeply rooted.
“Education is a big part of who I am. My grandmother was one of the first teachers in The Gambia. We have a lot of teachers in my family. We are proof of and the advocates for education as a tool to lift yourself out of poverty and reach your fullest potential.”
Emily Joof, Associate Director of Programs
“Education is a big part of who I am. My grandmother was one of the first teachers in The Gambia. We have a lot of teachers in my family,” she says. “We are proof of and the advocates for education as a tool to lift yourself out of poverty and reach your fullest potential.”
Looking ahead, Luminos is excited to grow our partnership with the government and realize our vision where thousands of children catch up to grade level, reintegrate into government schools, and prepare for lifelong learning.
“There is an eagerness for this change in The Gambia, which is really unparalleled,” says Emily.
Photo credit for this story: Ahmed Jallanzo