Minister Claudina Cole

The Gambia Government has announced plans to abolish tuition fees in all public junior and senior secondary schools in the country, the independent Standard newspaper has reported.

Claudiana Cole, minister of Basic and Secondary Education said the government intends to replace the tuition fees with grants to all students in the country.

Answering questions at the National Assembly raised by Halifa Sallah, member for Serrekunda, Ms Cole said her ministry has introduced a free education policy through the Schools Improvement Grant by eliminating tuition fees and other levies that were barriers to access to education in the country. She said the grants cover most of the basic needs of students excluding uniforms, note books and dinner money.

“Following the success of the pilot project, the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education has now scaled up the programme to cover all public lower basic schools in the country,” she said.

Further answering questions from Sidia Jatta, member for Wuli, Ms Cole said her ministry has expanded the teaching of local languages in public schools.

She added: “We are implementing seven national languages to support the development of reading skills of children in early grades from early childhood to Grade 3. However there are challenges in the implementation of the project in some schools in Region Six, where there are inadequate numbers of Sarahule teachers forcing the ministry to rely on teachers who are not well versed in the language.

“We then trained them on the orthography and methodology. Similarly, the same situation prevailed in Foni regarding the teaching of Jola. We do a lot of training and coaching to support these teachers.”