In a rapidly changing, highly complex and interdependent world, developing countries like The Gambia face unprecedented social, economic and environmental challenges. These challenges are exacerbated by accelerating globalization, faster rates of and shifts in technological developments and capacity. Concomitantly, these forces have also provided us with a myriad of new opportunities for human advancement when strategically harnessed.
Against this backdrop, tertiary and higher education institutions (HEIs), universities in particular, have a key role to play. In fulfilment of this mission, this three-day Conference on the future of Higher Education in The Gambia is organised by UTG, in collaboration with the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MOHERST), and the proposed conference will focus on two fundamental questions: Firstly, how can the higher education institutions in the Gambia, government and the private sector effectively work together to collectively address the needs of the country’s changing workforce? For instance, 64 per cent of Gambia’s population is mainly young – under the age of 25; and secondly, how can these three key stakeholders – government, higher education institutions and Private sector – put in place collaborative cooperation and interaction among themselves, in order to lay the foundations of a more efficient, equitable and effective framework for future higher educational delivery in the Gambia?
The UTG-MOHERST 2020 International Conference is framed by the theme ‘Charting New Paths: Shaping the Future of Higher Education in The Gambia’ and will bring together leaders and experts to share their visions about higher education – connecting local, national, regional and global perspectives and to generate discussions on what is the essence of higher education today and in the future. The conference will not only create the platform for sharing visions, but will also constitute an open dialogue that seeks to interrogate and explore multiple ways to enhance education, research and innovation, and to promote a sustainable and transformative higher education paradigm that provide solutions for today’s challenges and to solve problems that have not yet been anticipated. As the future looks more uncertain with current global challenges, we need to be open and ready for it.
In a nutshell, the proposed conference will explore some of the most pressing issues confronting Gambia’s higher education institutions. These are broadly outlined below:
I) What do Gambia’s higher education institutions need to do at present in order to ensure future strength and relevance in changing regional and global contexts?
II) How do university administrators, policy makers, academics and the private sector work together effectively to lay the foundations of a resilient, adaptable and sustainable higher education sector?
III) How do Gambia’s higher education institutions adjust to the changing realities and demands of Gambian society without necessarily compromising or diluting quality and their central academic missions?
The specific aims and objectives of the conference are to:
a) Put in place an engaging forum to gather, discuss and exchange ideas in shaping the future of higher education in The Gambia, including the type of education, research and relationships with the communities and with industry
b) Provide the ideal opportunity to bring together scholars, academics, researchers, graduates from different disciplines in order to discuss new issues, theories, concepts, as well as unearth some of the most recent developments in both the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) and Social Sciences and the Humanities.
c) Share best practices and promote interaction, partnership and cooperation among Gambian scholars at home and those in the diaspora. In effect, provide an opportunity for diaspora scholars to network with those stakeholders at the forefront of Higher Education in The Gambia.
d) Discuss some of the most pressing and complex issues now facing Gambia’s higher education institutions
e) Promote a productive discussion on the future of Gambia’s higher education sector and ways in which key stakeholders such as academics, government and the private sector can work together to build the country’s future human resources
Possible Thematic sections
- The History and Evolution of Gambia’s Higher Education Institutions/sector
- Intersections between higher education and economic development: Assessing the impact of Higher Education’s Role on Gambia’s socio-economic development
- Financing the future of higher education: developing a new business blueprint for Gambia’s higher education sector
- The Futures of Education and the Changing Roles of Higher Education Systems
- Challenges of Gambia’s Higher Education institutions: costs, productivity, and the need for Reorganization
- Re-assessing the operations and management of Gambia’s higher education institutions
- Future Partnerships for UTG: Building skills, knowledge and capacity in the next generation of UTG students and academic staff
- Government Policy issues and Policy Directions: Role of Education Policy and Administration
- Higher Education, Research and Globalization: the role of Gambianist scholars abroad
- New Trends in the Higher Education: Technology, E-Learning and Digitalization
- Relevance of Study Programmes: refining vocational education and training in developing knowledge, skills and the human capital of tomorrow
- Quality Assurance and Ethical Issues in Higher Education: Intellectual Property Rights and Plagiarism
- A Policy brief: a comprehensive and accurate higher education data and relevant policy recommendations are essential to solving many of the challenges the higher education sector in The Gambia faces. Therefore, the Policy Brief would be intended to support government and other stakeholders, who are determined to address some of the long-term concerns and difficulties confronting the sector.
- Selected papers from the conference would constitute the basis for an edited volume. In sum, one of the primary goals of the Conference is to produce an edited volume of essays, into thematic sections, that will capture perspectives on the current status and future evolution of Higher Education in The Gambia by education specialists and Gambianist scholars, and bear these tentative titles: Charting Ahead: Navigating Challenges to Gambia’s Higher Education or Gambia’s Higher Education Reconsidered: Reflecting on Our Past, Present and Charting Our Future. The volume is to be edited by Professor Pierre Gomez, Drs Ismaila Ceesay and Ebrima Sall.
The proposed edited volume will be of particular interest to policy makers, Africanist scholars, policy-oriented scholars and to a broad reading population seeking a more nuanced understanding of the challenges confronting the higher education sector in The Gambia. One of the book’s intended purposes is to enrich the debate around higher education in Africa more generally; of course, from the point of view of the Gambia.
In sum, the proposed conference promises to be intellectually engaging and productive. The conference will bring together eminent academics and experts in the field to share their visions and concerns about the future higher education in The Gambia. It will provide an interconnected view from national, regional and global perspectives. This will sow the seeds of stimulating discussions on what is the crux of Gambia’s higher education today and in the future. It is well documented that investing in the skills of the young generation is critical for sustainable social and economic development. Therefore, the conference will bring together stakeholders to come up with a quality and an inclusive higher education blueprint that would effectively cater to the needs of Gambia’s young population. The proposed event will showcase innovative and cost-effective frameworks for providing students with a strong, relevant, and inclusive university education by sharing today’s best practice. Lastly, the proposed edited book is poised to make a lasting contribution to the academic literature on Higher Education in Africa; and more importantly, it could set new research vistas in African Studies.
The conference will be held in one of the hotels in The Gambia on 17-19 June 2020.
Proposals should include the following information:
- Lecture, communication or round table discussion (or workshop)
- Presentation of the general problematic
- Presentation of the main points and topics studied
- Key Words (5)
- First and last names of the speaker (or speakers)
- Institutional affiliation of presenter (s) (university, centre, faculty, laboratory, etc..)
- Email address
Submission of proposals:
Interested individuals are invited to develop papers to be presented at the international conference scheduled for the 17th and 19th of June, 2020. Interested individuals are asked to send their biodata together with their abstracts/proposals not exceeding 250 words to the address below on or before the 10th of April, 2020: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Committee of the conference will evaluate all the abstracts.
Selection of papers: April 10, 2020
Selected participants notified: April 30, 2020
Distribution of the provisional program: May 20, 2020
Final program: June 5, 2020
Colloquium Dates: 17th and 19th of June, 2020.