The Wrong System

Life is far more interesting than it needs to be because the forces that guide it are not merely practical.

David Rothenburg

 Every educational system on the planet was designed to meet the needs of nineteenth century industrialization

Sir Ken Robinson

The Gambian education system is very closely modeled on the British education system, and most of its flaws stem from its attempts at trying to imitate a system that was not designed with this society or environment in mind. Gambian education has a very similar structure to a British education – curriculum, term times, uniform – with a crippling effect.

The needs of the country and its children have been left out of the equation to some extent, particularly the needs of rural communities. I presume the thought goes that so much thought and expertise has been put into the British education system that it must be right. There is too much blind faith. For the education system here to really improve huge context driven reforms need to happen. The important questions are rarely asked, let alone answered. Perhaps they are asked up at the higher echelons of power.

What does the population want to gain from an education?

What skills do people need to improve their lives and the economy of the country?

How does climate affect schooling? And how should term times and school hours be changed to minimize detrimental effects?

What are the prospects of most students after education and how does the education system improve those prospects?

How can the education system successfully serve the majority of students and their needs, and still serve the needs of exceptional students?

What are the benefits and drawbacks of uniform?

How can funding for schools be made more transparent?

Should English be the primary language of instruction? If not, which language?

What are the differences in needs of up-country schools and students in comparison to Western region Kombo schools and students? Are the differences big enough to warrant differing systems?

The eternal silences of these infinite spaces make me afraid.

Blaise Pascal

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