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Gambia Education Information

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Education in The Gambia is costly experience for most citizens. Girls are assisted by the government in paying their school fees. In the past, boys were far more likely to be sent to school if their parents had a bit of money, while girls had very little chance to succeed unless they came from a rich family. Before the 1988 – 2003 Education Policy was formulated, less than 50% of Gambian children went to school.

The educational curriculum for grade schools is uniform nationwide, designed by educators who work at Gambia College. The system of grade-school education is as follows in the chart below. Some students begin their education in the privately owned nursery schools; entering children are about four or five years old. Government-directed education begins at grade one, which students enter at age seven. Lessons in schools are taught in the English language.

Institution Old Name Time spent
Nursery - 2-3 years
Lower Basic Primary 5
Upper Basic Junior Secondary 3
Secondary   4

At the end of Upper Basic school, a standardized exam will dictate whether a student is qualified to continue their education with Senior Secondary School. Unfortunately, many students are forced to terminate their education at the end of the Upper Basic cycle, due either to monetary difficulties, failure to pass the exam, or disillusions about the value of education—engendered by the lack of jobs even for Gambians who have passed grade twelve. If parents of Upper Basic graduates have the money, they are just as likely to send their offspring to a trade school or skills centre as to send them on to the next grade school level.

After passing another exam at the end of Senior Secondary School and provided they have the money, students can elect to attend either a tertiary institution or a university. Tertiary institutions include the Gambia Technical Training Institute, Management Development Institute (MDI), Rural Development Institute (RDI), and Gambia College.

Gambia Technical Training Institute trains students in technology, accounting, marketing and technical work. At the MDI, students can acquire middle-level training management, marketing and accounting, as well as take computer-training courses.

The RDI, located in the Lower River Division at Mansa Konko, trains workers for community development.
The Gambia College, a two- to three-year institution in Brikama, is mostly skill-based, training students to be teachers, nurses, public health officers and agricultural extension workers. Almost all teachers in The Gambia earn their qualifications at Gambia College, either the Primary Teacher Certificate (PTC) or the Higher Teacher Certificate (HTC).

University can be entered straight from Senior Secondary Schoolsl, or after completing one or more years at Gambia College. The University of The Gambia (UTG) is the nation's only university. Unfortunately, few students have the monetary or educational opportunity to attend this institution, let alone the resources to study abroad.

Literacy Rate in 2005:
  69.4% (between 15 to 24 years old)
59.2% (all people above 15 years)
Educational Enrolment in 2005 (net):
  Primary 97%
Secondary 33%
Tertiary 5%
School life expectancy ISCED 1-6 (years)
Percentage of repeaters, primary (%)
   (1999) 12
Primary to secondary transition rate (%)
  (**,1999) 82
Pupil / teacher ratio (primary)
  (2004) 35
Public expenditure on education:
    as % of GDP  
         (**,2004) 2.0
    as % of total government expenditure
         (2002) 8.9
Distribution of public expenditure per level (%) - 1991 :
  pre-primary       ...
  primary             42
  secondary         21
  tertiary             18
  unknown          19
  Pupil teacher ratio: 1 to 35 students (2004)
  2.8% of GDP spent on education
  SOURCE: UNICEF stats 2005

Types of Schools:
Early Childhood Education Development Centres
Lower Basic Schools
Upper Basic Schools
Senior Secondary Schools
Tertiary Institutions
Special Needs Schools
Technical and Vocational Centres

Enrolment (1999/200 to 2005/2006):
Nationally, during the period, 1999/2000 to 2005/2006 enrolment in the Lower Basic Schools (primary), increased from 154,664 to 182,627 registering an increase of 18.08%.  In Regional Education Directorate 1 (Banjul and Kanifing Municipal Council) the enrolment continued to increase except in 2001/02 when it slightly declined. In Regional Education Directorates 4, 5 and 6 (Lower River, Central River and Upper River Regions) respectively enrolment remained constant. There was a decline in the enrolment of boys in Lower River Region from 5,816 to 5,288. This represented 528 decline in enrolment or 9.08% whilst during the same period enrolment of girls increased from 4661 to 5310 or 13.92%.

During the period under review, the enrolments of both boys and girls have increased. The increase in girls’ enrolment was more pronounced.

On overall the average annual enrolment growth rates for boys and girls during the six-year period were 1.2% and 4.5% respectively. This implies that the average annual enrolment growth rate for girls was three times faster than boys.

The enrolment trends for Boys and Girls met around 2003/04 indicating the enrolments for boys and girls were equal. The subsequent years witnessed enrolment gap between the two sexes in favour of girls.

Source of enrolment:
Dept. of Education - Gambia
Education & Training Institutions
Ministry of Education
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