The Nova Scotia- Gambia Association (NSGA) remarkably staged a Westcoast Region inter-schools drama battle on HIV/AIDS and Life Skills at the Gambia College main hall on Friday, 29th May, 2015. The program, chaired by Modou M. Sarr and Sainabou Nyang, brought together students in their capacity as peer health educators in schools to interact, learn and share experiences on the ten critical life skills components through drama.
Five upper basic schools and five senior secondary schools namely, Arangellen, Gunjur, Kitty, Old Yundum and Sukuta Upper Basic Schools took part in the lower category and Jersey Technical, Fatima, Mahaad, St. Francis and St, Peters Technical Senior Secondary Schools were the combatants for the senior category.
Sukuta Upper Basic School and St. Francis Senior Secondary School were crown champions and the two winners were followed by Gunjur and St. Peters, and Old Yundum and Maahad as first and second runners ups, respectively. All participants were certified and the winners bagged a cash price of D2,500 and the runners ups grabbed D2,000 and D1500.
Speaking at the auspicious occasion, the Finance Manager of NSGA, Mr. Lamin BS. Jammeh, said the activity is part of the GFATM through Action Aid International- The Gambia funded HIV/AIDS and Life Skills activities for schools. He added that the program is geared towards achieving the Millennium Development Goal 6, which means combating HIV/AIDS, malaria, and other diseases. Jammeh said NSGA is committed to actively participate in achieving these objectives mainly in schools and communities targeting the youth within the bracket of 14 to 24 years. He expressed optimism that peer-peer influence is the most effective way of discussing issues of sex or sex related education and that this is why the peer health education model to reach a large number of youths within the country who will in turn reach their peers.
The manager said it is a cultural challenge to discuss sex and sexuality in homes, communities and even schools. He noted: “NSGA strives to give the youths good education on reproductive health and sexually transmitted infections and prevention. This is why they have the theme ; learn to teach others.” He finally added that the event will manifest what their PHE teams have learnt and also determine the likely impact they will have when they share the knowledge with their peers.
In his keynote address, the Executive Director of Action Aid, Mr. Omar Badjie, spoke at length about the significance of the program, saying sensitizations are key measures in responding to the epidemic. He said every combatant is a winner in as much as you participated and share your play with the audience. Mr. Badjie added that young people are very vulnerable to the disease and a huge number get infected before they reach 24 years of age. He said the virus’s impact on the country’s economy can be enormous and as a result, it requires concerted efforts in tackling the menace. Mr. Badjie highlighted the numerous responses used against HIV/AIDS in the Gambia, concluding that education can register hope towards its prevention.
The NSGA Project Coordinator, Mr. Francois S. Mendy, in his closing statements, thanked the competitors for their participation and Action Aid for facilitating the funding of the project. He noted that the fight against HIV/AIDS require a concerted effort all around the world as he described young people as vulnerable to the virus. He said sensitization and dissemination of key information is vital in combating the epidemic.
The Nova Scotia drama group acted a short drama on HIV/AIDS and entertained the audience with some live music, with the lyrics carrying messages of the subject matter.
By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
For Gambian Talents Education column
The Early Childhood Development (ECD) and Arabic Schools of SBEC International School, last Friday 12th June, 2015, graduated a total of 68 pupils at a colorful ceremony held at the school in Bijilo. The 13th occasion, that graduates 52 from the ECD English-French and 16 from ECD English-Arabic, brought together current and past students of the school, administrators, teachers and parents.
An ECD student graduate, Mariama Jah, gave the welcoming remarks in French. She welcomed the participants and thanked the parents for their continuous support to their children.
In his keynote address, the Head of the ECD section, Mr. Ousman Trawally, said the children have completed the general and specific requirements to graduate from Reception 2 of the ECD Unit to grade 1 of their primary school. He said the day marks 13 years of the school’s holistic child development and of providing quality education to the children of the world, dominated by Gambian children, thus complementing the Gambia government’s educational policy and goals.
The head said they have been able to help the children to develop thinking skills, language skills in English, French and Arabic, reasoning, calculation and memory skills, among others. Socially, he said they have been able to help the children to build and maintain positive interaction and relationships by inculcating discipline in them, through positive means and attitude of appreciation and thankfulness.
Through various motor skills and in constant consultation with their parents, Mr. Trawally said they keep the children healthy, strong and alert with consciousness of proper nutrition which is also provided at the school.
Mr. Trawally thanked the Gambia government through the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education Directorate 2, for providing the enabling environment for the smooth running of their standard bilingual international institution.
For the Head of the Arabic section, Mr. Jarjusey, the day marks another milestone for the noble school. He said this is the first gradation of his section as that component of SBEC was established in September, 2014. According to Mr. Jarjusey, the vision of the school is to make Arabic education accessible to children. He said the students were exposed to Quranic recitations, calculations, language and other skills as offered in standard schools. He thanked the parents for their support and noted that the school is committed to achieving its objectives.
The guest speaker of the occasion, Mr. Yankuba Manneh, expressed delight to be associated with the program. He spoke on the theme ‘Their Future in Our Hands’ and said it is the universal right of the child to be fed, cloth, sheltered and educated. He dilated on the numerous roles of parents in children’s development, saying their future solely lies on the hands of their parents. He complimented SBEC for their valuable contribution to the development of children of the world and Gambian children in particular. Mr. Manneh urged teachers to be steadfast in serving the school to the best of their ability by maintaining standard and quality education. To the students, the speaker advised them to respect their parents and be serious in their further education.
The students showcased the knowledge and skills they have learnt during the course through a presentation of numbers and letter sounds, songs, poems, drama, choreography, and Quranic recitations. The students were later awarded certificates and outstanding ones were given prizes.
By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
For Gambian Talents Education column
FROM THE STREETS OF “JARUMEH KOTO” TO THE STREETS OF HALIFAX IN CANADA. INTRODUCING NURU SEY- AN ICON TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF THE GAMBIA
After graduating as the Deputy Head boy of St Augustine’s High School in 2002, he worked for the Nova Scotia Gambia Association (NSGA) as a street drama team member. Nuru and other Peer Health educators were the first badge of fresh high school graduates hired by the NSGA to perform street drama sensitizing youths about the ills of society especially on health related issues. In no time, he got promoted to a lead position, a project manager and traveled the length and breadth of the country creating awareness among youths, adults and children and that is how he got to “Jarumeh Koto” and the furthest suburbs of The Gambia. Nuru Sey also helped to establish the NSGA Sierra Leone chapter where he spent a couple of years training Sierra Leoneans. He attended the University of The Gambia where he graduated with Bachelors in Development Studies and acquired a certificate in Rural Development from The Gambia Technical Training Institute (GTTI). He is married to Dr. Chiquita Jones one of the Gambian Doctors who also studied from the University of The Gambia and they are blessed with a wonderful son. On Friday May 15th 2015, Mr. Sey graduated with a Masters of Art in International Development Studies from St Mary's University, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada. Join us in congratulating Mr. Sey.