Your Excellency, our Chancellor, President of The Republic, Mr. Adama Barrow
Your Excellency, the Vice President, Dr. Isatou Touray
Hon. Speaker of the National Assembly
His Lordship, the Chief Justice
Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service
Hon. Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology and other Cabinet Members Present
Hon. Members of the National Assembly
Your Excellences’ Members of the Diplomatic and Consular Corp
Mayors, Governors and Traditional Chiefs
Service Chiefs, and Heads of Agencies
Venerable Religious Leaders
Chairman and Members of the University Governing Council & Past Governing Councils
Vice Chancellor, Obafemi Awolowo University
Vice Chancellor, Fourah Bay College, University of Sierra Leone
Rector, Gaston Berger University
Secretary General, Gaziantep University
Members of the delegation from Universities in Sierra Leone and Senegal
Distinguished invited Scholars, Members of Senate, Faculty Members and Senior Administration of The UTG
Staff and Students of the University of the Gambia
Friends and partners of UTG
Distinguished Graduands and their families
Members of the Media
Good morning and welcome to the Convocation Ceremony
It is an honor and a pleasure to join you today to mark the celebration of the 14th Convocation Ceremony of the University of The Gambia.
May I welcome in our midst
- the Chancellor of The University and President of the Republic, His Excellency Mr. Adama Barrow,
- the Vice President Dr. Isatou Touray,
- the Honourable Minister for Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology,
Badara Joof and
- the distinguished eminent scholars who traveled long distances to be here with us.
I also welcome the Chairman and Members of the Governing Council and all the Government officials here present. We equally appreciate our graduands, their parents, guardians, relatives, friends, staff, students from The University of The Gambia and other stakeholders and partners of the University.
This is my first address to the University Convocation as the Vice Chancellor following my appointment on 4th January, 2022. I am indeed very delighted to take part in the 14th Convocation Ceremony of the University of The Gambia.
THE 14th CONVOCATION CEREMONY
In this Convocation Ceremony for 2022, 1134 graduating Students who have been found worthy in character and learning will be awarded various Degrees and Prizes. Also, we have graduate students from the Postgraduate school, in various fields.
For the graduating class of December 2020 and May 2021, we will award first degrees in the following fields of learning:
|Graduate Statistics for 2022|
|Agriculture & Environmental Sciences||Female||5|
|Physical & Natural Sciences||Female||19|
|Humanities & Social Sciences||Female||108|
|Business & Public Administration||Female||162|
|Medicine & Surgery||Female||25|
|Public & Environmental Health||Female||12|
|Faculty of Law (LLB)||Female||48|
|Graduate Studies & Research||Female||5|
|Journalism & Digital Media||Female||25|
|GRAND TOTAL FOR ALL SCHOOLS||1134|
On behalf of our Senate and indeed all Staff and Students of UTG, I congratulate you all and wish you even greater achievements in the years to come.
I should enjoin you all, as you become proud Alumni of UTG, not to relent in promoting the cause of UTG in the years to come. You should be rest assured that we will be glad to continue to partner with every one of you, and to support your steady progress in your career development.
Mr. Chairman, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
Just barely two months in office, I have conducted a familiarization tour of various campuses, assessed the facilities for learning, the administrative environment, the structure and internal systems of the University, to have a fairly good grasp of the prevailing situation, challenges and opportunities on the ground.
HIGHLIGHTS OF KEY ACHIEVEMENTS
Highlights of key achievements for the period under review are as follows:
- A new Directorate of Research and Consultancy was set up to coordinate and support staff and to build capacity. D16 Million was provided as a research grant/seed funding for UTG staff to undertake research relevant to the needs of our society. Below are examples of research projects carried out at UTG:
- Demonstration project on renewable energy potential in The Gambia. Funded by German Ministry of Education and Research (D145.5 million) – up to 2024
- Environmental impact assessment for West African Competitiveness Project. Co-funded by United Purpose and European Commission (D1.2 million)
- Baseline assessment of vehicle fuel economy in The Gambia. Funded by United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) (D400,000)
- Feasibility study on establishing ICT Tech Hubs. Funded by Ministry of Information and Communication Infrastructure (D2.89 million)
- Gender Policies for Political Parties. Funded by UNDP (D1.7 million)
- Knowledge, attitudes, and practices on COVID-19 in The Gambia. Funded by UNICEF (D2.6 million)
- A Think Tank Hub/ Centre for Sustainable Development and Policy Studies. Funded by UNDP through Ministry of Finance Project Coordination Unit (US$ 20,000)
- Climate conflict. Funded by World Food Programme (US$ 37,000)
- The Office of University Relations was established to widen cooperation and develop partnerships with the University at local, national, and international levels. About ten institutions/universities have renewed their partnership agreements with UTG, with activities such as faculty and student exchanges, and joint research projects.
- The Careers, Wellness and Counselling Centre was also established to support students on career choices, internship and job opportunities as well as their mental wellbeing. The UTG graduate scheme being funded by UNDP and UNFPA provide internships for graduates.
- The Planning and Quality Assurance Department has been strengthened by recruiting 5 (five) Quality Assurance Officers to improve our capacity to plan and our internal systems to enhance quality.
- The libraries at University of the Gambia have undergone significant changes, which included, the establishment of the University Main Library and renovation of its branches. The digital revolution of the library has already started. The subscription of the EBSCO Host Journal online database is a success story. It is now possible for the UTG Community to benefit from the same journals database as top-notch universities across the globe.
- The University Management approved US$ 88,275.00 for the purchase of the Turnitin Plagiarism Software to promote academic integrity, and good practices in writing.
- The implementation of “Smart Classroom” at UTG with the help of UNESCO-ICHEI based at the Southern University of Science and Technology (SUSTECH), Shenzhen, China. With this in place, the UTG stands out among the seven universities in Africa with such a sophisticated IT infrastructure.
- Several academic and Administrative Staff have benefitted from study leave (locally and overseas).10 Staff have been sponsored to attend various professional conferences, seminars, and workshops globally.
I intend to build on these achievements registered by my predecessors and to improve on other critical areas that needed urgent attention.
MY VISION AND PLANS FOR THE TRANSFORMATION OF UTG
The UTG has evolved from inspiration to impact, and today we are redoubling our efforts with a view to securing the long-term sustainability of the University and to leapfrog into the digital future.
Universities all over the world focus on three major objectives – (1) to educate students, (2) to produce knowledge and (3) to apply the knowledge produced to inform teaching and to facilitate development through socio-economic and environmental transformation, working with various stakeholders such as Government, private sector, and development partners.
It is therefore important to realign the core objectives of the University of The Gambia to put more emphasis on:
- supporting teaching and learning.
- supporting research – to inform teaching and enhance the learning experience of students.
- Application of research through knowledge transfer and innovation – a critical element of development involves the formulation of policies informed by research to respond to the needs of society in areas such as health, education, and agriculture. Policy formulation must be context-specific and anchored on existing evidence of what works.
A long-term perspective is vital, as the university evolves, so that we can come up with home grown solutions to respond to the complex socio-economic challenges facing The Gambia.
Let me assure you that this Administration is determined to spearhead a positive transformation through a Quality-First Agenda within the limits of available resources, to fast track the development of our university.
Mr. Chancellor, Your Excellences, Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen
I have initiated an assessment of our teaching programmes, research activities, and the application of our research to support Government, private sector, civil society, and our development partners. In the coming weeks and months, I would be in a better position, after extensive consultation and situational analysis with my team, to make a formal pronouncement on the implementation of my vision and plans to transform the University of The Gambia UTG.
Our quest for improving the quality of education at UTG would necessitate a degree of recalibration and refocusing on the following key areas – concept of 6S:
(1) Student’s experience: The University Administration has been working on strengthening the screening and selection of candidates for admission to our various undergraduate and postgraduate programmes to enhance the quality of the student body. Training curricula are also being reviewed to ensure that all our programmes are accredited by National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority (NAQAA).
An undergraduate Student Handbook was developed to ease the integration of new students into campus student life and promote a culture of a healthy mix of work and fun in their pursuit of education. The UTG Alumni network is being built to encourage continuous engagement of past students with their alma mater through sharing of lessons learnt, ideas, mentorship, financial support etc. An Endowment Fund of D1.1 million has been created to support students with the help of MSDG project and there are plans to engage other partners to facilitate access to higher education.
(2) Staff development and welfare: The quality of our staff must reflect our lofty ambitions. The University is reviewing quality assurance in our Staff recruitment process, with active involvement of Departments, Schools and Committees, in the screening of candidates.
Staff capacity building and welfare will continue to receive the priority it deserves, to support the Quality-First Agenda.
Efforts to enhance Staff development, would include sponsorship for local and overseas training, and active participation of UTG Staff in local and international conferences and workshops where they can network with their peers and benefit from peer to peer exchanges.
(3) Space for teaching, learning and recreation: Facilities for teaching, learning and recreation are being improved. The completion of the first phase of our Faraba Banta Campus will enrich the quality of the teaching environment, which remains our top priority. We will embrace new technology and e-learning to open new doors and vistas for accessing education and learning.
Plans are underway to establish Journalism and the Medical libraries to better cater to the needs of student library users.
(4) Sustainable financing: The question of funding continues to pose major challenges to effective service delivery. The UTG will continue to develop its strategy to mobilise adequate resources through partnerships, provision of fee earning services such as research, consultancy and policy dialogues as well as improved cost saving measures.
(5) System for performance management: We are also developing a new staff performance appraisal system and Corporate Performance Dashboard to respond to our Quality-First Agenda. This will be supported by a comprehensive IT system, which will also be used to manage performance in teaching, research and consultancy services.
(6) Stakeholder engagement to strengthen the link between academia and industry: We are developing an Industry-University Forum (i) to act as a sounding board to ensure relevance of our programmes, (ii) to enhance the link to industry and experience of students in the classroom through lectures by industry leaders, (iii) to develop joint research proposals and training programmes with industry leaders, (iv) to act as an interface for internship and job opportunities for students and graduates.
APPEAL FOR SUPPORT
I would like to appeal once again to all our friends, well-wishers and partners to support our Quality-First Agenda and re-position UTG as a top–ranking University in Africa.
I call on the public sector institutions, private sector, civil society and development partners to collaborate more with the University of The Gambia. The university needs your support to reposition itself as a center for incubation of innovative ideas that will address the problems of our nation through Centres of Excellence and Innovation.
The Centers of Excellence and Innovation will help to position the University among the best in the region and to serve as a catalyst for development.
I will work with senior management and our development partners to identify thematic areas where we can harness the best of our resources and knowledge to create and structure these centers of excellence and innovations to add value to our services to the country and humanity at large.
Together we can make best use of the enormous potential of the university for the betterment of this country.
Your Excellency, the President of The Republic and Chancellor of The University of The Gambia
Honourable Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology
Chairman of The Governing Council and Members of Council
Senate of UTG
Distinguished ladies and gentlemen
I cannot end this Convocation Address without expressing my sincere appreciation to all of you and other stakeholders for the support and cordial relationships the University has enjoyed.
All our Staff and Students deserve commendation for their commitment to the maintenance of a stable and progressive Academic Calendar here in UTG.
To the graduands, as you leave this University, remember that you are now part of the alumni network of UTG. Be good Ambassadors for the University.
I want to assure you all that the University Management, under my leadership, will continue to do our best, to move UTG to become a top-class University.
I thank you all for your kind attention.