It has become more urgent to scale up school enrolment and quality education in The Gambia

Joint statement by Minister of Basic and Secondary Education Hon. Claudiana A. Cole and UNICEF The Gambia Representative Ms. Nafisa Binte Shafique on the International Day of Education

24 January 2024
Two children walk home from school
UNICEF/UN03387/Alhagie

Banjul, 24 January 2024 – “Important progress has been made in improving access to basic education in The Gambia – more children, especially girls, are now in school than ever before, girls are now outperforming boys in most education indicators because of the remarkable success in the girls’ education programmes, and most children now have access to a primary school within two kilometers from their homes. This is a strong indication of The Gambia’s commitment to fulfilling the fundamental right of every child to education, guaranteed by the 1997 Constitution of The Gambia and the Convention on the Rights of the Child.

“During the Transforming Education Summit, held on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly in September 2022, H.E. President Adama Barrow made a commitment that his government will “invest in foundational literacy and numeracy and employ skills development initiatives that enhance independent learning, creativity, interpersonal skills and critical thinking capabilities”. The Green Recovery-focused National Development Plan 2023-2027 also promises “Equitable Access to Quality and Relevant Education for all”. These are important commitments that underscore the government’s readiness to not only make education accessible but to also invest in quality and relevant education that drives the socio-economic transformation of the country.

“That is why, on International Day of Education, we are calling on all partners, especially parents, the private sector and development partners, to make it an urgent priority to ensure every child is in school at the right age, and to invest more in the education and skills of children.

“While primary school enrolment was at 428,053 children in 2023, more than 46,000 children in the country are still out of school and face a potentially challenging future if they grow up without appropriate education or skills. Children miss out on so many crucial opportunities when they are denied the right to education, a basic right that no child should have to struggle for.

“With many children not able to experience the full cycle of schooling – primary school completion rate is at 88 per cent, upper basic school 65 per cent and senior secondary school 47 per cent – we must work stronger together to support children to enroll, stay in school and learn.

“More than ever, we must support national efforts to bring quality education services closer to children and communities. This means building more disability accessible schools with the right facilities and resources for learning, and empowering and motivating teachers to deliver quality lessons. We must also support families in difficult circumstances to cover the associated costs of education and other basic needs that hinder their children’s education. Let us also remember to invest more in foundational learning to address the learning crisis, a reality facing many children.

“The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and UNICEF will continue to actively work together, through the Zero Out-Of-School Children project, funded by the Education Above All Foundation, and other initiatives, to ensure children in The Gambia have equal opportunities to enroll in school and learn until they complete their education.”

Media contacts

Monika Kacprzak
Communication Officer
UNICEF The Gambia
Tel: +220 3303087

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UNICEF promotes the rights and wellbeing of every child, in everything we do. Together with our partners, we work in 190 countries and territories to translate that commitment into practical action, focusing special effort on reaching the most vulnerable and excluded children, to the benefit of all children, everywhere.

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