By Almamao Kamaso
The Basic and Secondary Education minster Mrs Claudia Cole told members of the National Assembly that government of the Gambia has not in any way give her ministry a dalasi in support of the distance learning , that school children were engaged in during the COVID-19 pandemic.
She denied that some D34Million dalasi was ever given to her ministry from the COVID-19 funds as some reports indicated. Central government did not give my ministry a dalasi from the consolidated funds or from COVID-19 funds, she told law makers.
The Minister was responding to a supplementary question pose by the honourable member for Banjul South Fatoumatta Njai, Monday 1st July 2020.
The Basic and secondary Education minister said all the monies that her ministry was using had been given by development partners such as the World Bank and UNICEF with others. She made is categorically clear that no money was given by the Central government of the Gambia towards the distance learning. She lamented that the program has since stopped now because of lack of funding.
When the minister was further pressed as to what measures her ministry has in place for the transition of students from one grade level to another in the coming academic year by Honourable member for Bakau Assan Touray; she said they will rely on continuous assessment of students as a measure for children transiting from one class to another. However she made is clear that because of the unusual circumstances her ministry is relying on the continuous assessment system.
Responding to other questions the minister told the law makers that her ministry is very concern of the fact that there has being a loss of vital contact hours with the children since COVID-19. The minister informed members that almost 674,300 school going children are affected in our school systems; but her ministry have plans to mitigate this huge lost.
To mitigate the lost contacts hours, the ministry will take the following measures; schools hours will be increased, school days also will be increased and her ministry will consider limiting schools holidays too, where it is two weeks it will be scaled down to one week.
On the provision of staff quarters for some of the schools that does not have quarters, she said the provision of staff quarters is being seriously considered though her ministry do not have funds yet. She told the law makers that already more than 700 staff quarters were constructed last year alone, with support from MRC Holland.