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|UTG post graduate programme Another giant leap in the education sector|
|Written by Administrator|
|Sunday, 14 August 2011 07:03|
About two years ago, a pioneering programme was unveiled at the county's first and only university, the University of The Gambia.
The Masters in African History programme, like the UTG itself, attracted substantial attention to the possibility of achieving the goal of the pioneers. It turned out to be a big test for the authorities at the university. Last week's academic gathering at the UTG which saw three students defend their theses served as a proof of the fact that the UTG can indeed stand the test of time.
To be privileged to be part of such a pioneering project is an opportunity of a life time. And so for the pioneering students, it is just more than a dream come through. Not only have they been able to make a giant academic leap, but they have done so on home soil. Hassoum Ceesay is one of the students who defended their theses. He described the completion of the program as a manifestation of the opportunities available in the country for Gambians. He seized the opportunity to call on Gambians to take ownership of the university so as to make maximum use of the available opportunities.
For Mamakeh Bojang, the second student, it is quite a unique privilege to be part of the pacesetters for the university's post graduate program. He said to be first in every thing is not easy, but that through endeavouring and hard work they were able to make it. "Very difficult challenges stood in our way,'' he said, ''but we knew that we were the first batch and so we had a very big responsibility that must be overcome as the people had great expectations."
According to Bojang, when they started in June 2007, little did they know that out of the fourteen students who started the journey, only three of them would defend their theses. He spoke at length about the rigorous trials they went through in the course of their research, citing the literal absence of archival materials and the effect of "empty drawers" in the libraries with regards to contemporary intellectual materials on their subject matter as major obstacles. On the subject of brain drain, he maintained that as so much has been invested in them, they feel a moral obligation to deliver to the society. He however noted that further studies might be necessary, and that as such they might some day find the need to leave the country.
The figure behind this pioneering program is Professor Nicodemus Awasoum, an academician of a distinguished character. Like the architect of the University of The Gambia, Professor Alhaji Dr Yahya Jammeh, Professor Awasoum is highly optimistic. Despite the uphill task associated with pioneering a project like this, he remained upbeat all the way. He disclosed to this reporter that he feels a sense of accomplishment. As a pioneer professor of the University of The Gambia, Professor Awasoum feels it his responsibility to give back to UTG, and that there couldn't be any better way of doing so than instituting and overseeing a post graduate programme.
"This program," he said, "is of crucial importance to the survival of this university."
He added: "we cannot talk of thorough research and capacity building without post graduate programmes. This post graduate programme has enabled us to produce a pool of highly qualified academicians who can contribute to the production of knowledge in the university through teaching and research." Acknowledging the existence of the myth surrounding the institution of a post graduate programme at the UTG, Professor Awasoum argued that creativity is a must. "The issue is," he said, "a university is meaningless if its professors cannot start a post graduate program." According to him, it is not an issue of the age of the university; rather, it is about the quality of the teaching staff.
And he went on: "If we conduct an effective quality control mechanism, we will realize that we only have to work a little bit harder to ensure the best man power, and in this we need to equip the university with more professors so that they can sustain the post graduate program. So as long as the university continues to graduate its own students and attract professors, nothing stops it from starting a post graduate programme." A professor in African history, Awasoum believes that if the University of The Gambia did not institute a post graduate program, it would be difficult to engage in capacity building.
Speaking about 'brain drain', the professor noted that the phenomenon can be stopped through imagination. As he puts it: "The issue is that we have to train more students, we have to engage ourselves in intellectual massification so that we can have a balance between demand and supply. So if we accelerate capacity building, brain drain can easily become brain gain".
Author: by Gibairu Janneh