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Gambia: First Lady Launches Initiative to Send 66,000 Children Back to School

First Lady Fatoumatta Bah-Barrow on Friday launched a mega-initiative that seeks to send 66,000 child dropouts in The Gambia back to school.

The project ‘Zero Out-of-School Children in The Gambia’ is spearheaded by the United Nations Children’s Education Fund and the Government of The Gambia in partnership with Education for All Foundation (EAC), based in Qatar.

Aside the ultimate aim of ensuring that 66,765 children, who are out of school for various reasons, return to school, the project will also raise awareness and sensitize 1,500 parents on school enrolment procedures and processes for their children, ensure recruitment of over 1,000 new teachers, and also ensure training for 50 head teachers and 450 teachers on improved management and pedagogic skills to enhance enrollment and retention.

The project will also provide over 3,000 students with bicycles to enhance travel to school to prevent dropout, provide learning and play materials for over 15,000 children in 60 schools across the country, train 50 educationists on effective data collection, interpretation and utilisation, as well as provide cash transfer to support 7,500 families with most needy children to improve enrollment and retention.

The event was graced by gov’t officials, ambassadors and other members of the diplomatic and consular corps, civil society advocates and students, among other stakeholders.

“I am very indeed pleased to join you all in launching the Zero Out-of-School project, which is a noble initiative undertaken for the prosperity and advancement of the Gambian people,” First Lady Fatoumatta Bah Barrow said.

She thus encouraged the implementing partners to carry out the project in a timely manner, whilst paying particular attention to girls and children with special needs.

“We need to ensure that an all-inclusive approach is adopted to maximize everyone’s potential,” she said.

The event was graced by ChildFund Regional Director Chege Ngugi, EAC Executive Director Mary Joy Pigozzi, UNICEF Geneva Representative Daniel Baheta and basic education minister Claudiana Cole, who all applauded the initiative geared towards improving access to education in The Gambia.