MINISTRY OF HIGHER EDUCATION HAS MISSED THE POINT ON ITS BUDGET ALLOCATIONS
With a budget allocation of GMD341,339,522.00 and an absorption rate of 10.71% which is GMD36,548,012.0 spent from January to February 2019k compared to GMD9,129,850.00 in the same period of 2018. A press release containing the “Coat of Arm” of the government of The Gambia and the name of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology (MOHERST) revealed: “The Ministry has no budget allocation for Graduate Studies therefore, the Ministry is not in a position to provide sponsorship for such graduate studies.”
The 2019 budget has approved GMD779,591,000.00 alone for the construction of UTG Campus (Donors: BADEA, IDB, KFAED, OPEC, SFD) which the Ministry does not include scholarships to support the financing of students to be enrolled in Universities. In fact, The Gambia government DO NOT have to rely on donors to sponsor her children to pursue university degree. The Ministry of Higher Education prepares its annual budget, which is submitted to the Ministry of Finance and later vetted by the cabinet before it is presented to Parliament for debate and approval. As the supreme education Ministry, the institution has the discretion to include budget line item that will give sponsorship to students that are unable to get support from their families to pursue their university degree. This could be done by cutting unnecessary or extravagant budget allocations in the area of travels and allowances and invest in education. Last year from January to July 2018, the Ministry of Higher Education has spent GMD5,175,419.70 on travels alone. This and other extravagant spending on travels by the government of the Gambia alerted the Ministry of Finance to issue temporal travel ban on all government officials with the exception of few. The Minister was quoted “the measure is needed to free up spending for social services such as Education, health and to engender economic growth and macroeconomic stability”
Gambia being a poor and underdeveloped country, thanks to evidences of maladministration of public money, this is a deliberate gesture from the Ministry of Higher Education. What is the essence of higher education Ministry if you don’t have higher education students in public university? This is a clear marginalization of the poor and against the so-called “Education for All” policy. The government of The Gambia must intensively involve citizens before the drafting of the national budget. This will give them the opportunity to record citizen’s priorities.
We must acknowledge that the Ministry in the past has been supportive providing scholarship for hundreds of students who are now giving back to the country. Most of them are working with the government contributing to national development. Whiles citizens are protesting against deportation of Gambians, good number of which are studying in Europe and America, we must put “hidden figures” under microscope to determine government’s policies that frustrate the environment for young people that will warrant them to drop out of university and take the deadly Mediterranean journey dubbed as “back way”.
By: Marr Nyang
Editors note: The views expressed by the author do not represent the position of the Freedom Newspaper. Thanks for your attention.