ADDRESS DELIVERED BY HIS EXCELLENCY, ADAMA BARROW AT THE INAUGURATION CEREMONY OF THE GOVERNING COUNCIL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF THE GAMBIA
VENUE: STATE HOUSE
DATE: 31ST AUGUST, 2021
Your Excellency, the Vice President,
The Honourable Minister of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology,
Other Cabinet Ministers present,
Secretary General and Head of the Civil Service,
Chairman and Members of the Governing Council of The University of The Gambia,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
Members of the Press,
To begin, I warmly congratulate the new members of the Governing Council of The University of The Gambia (UTG) on their appointments to Council, and I thank them dearly for accepting to serve the country within the higher education sector.
This is a sector that plays a critical role in the development of the nation; most prominently, through developing, expanding and strengthening our human resource.
We all know that national development centres around human beings and their environments, hence the strength of a nation rests on its human resource and its utilisation. It is the human resource that initiates and sustains change, progress and development.
The quality of a nation’s human resource sets the basis to preserve life, maintain peace and ensure inter-generational links, cohesion and continuity. Accordingly, it is most pressing that, as a nation, we prioritise the development of our human resource in a very special way.
Evidently, The University of The Gambia is uniquely placed to spearhead the development of this important resource, through training and retraining, skilling and reskilling and through knowledge production and application.
As it exists globally, the governing body of each university must ensure that the mandate of their university and the production and advancement of knowledge and skills are attained. The means of realising this depends on their statutes and the national policies and regulatory frameworks that govern the provision of higher education.
By the same breadth, I must underscore the point that, to succeed, university governing bodies must be duly empowered and adequately supported to operate with flexibility and autonomy. However, the UTG is a public institution, and has to be held accountable.
Guided by these principles, in my capacity as Chancellor of the UTG, I renew my support to the Governing Council, and confer upon it the powers and authority required to steer the affairs of the University for the attainment of our national goals, in the global context of higher education programme delivery.
Within the scope of our Higher Education Policy and other legal documents, the UTG Council is tasked to fulfil Government expectations, guarantee student satisfaction and provide the required human-power for the labour market.
It rests on you, Council Members, to lay the foundation on which the UTG Executive Committee will effectively execute the functions of running the daily affairs of the Institution.
Council will have to transform vision and policy into reality through the Vice Chancellor and his management team. Furthermore, all internal policy decisions for the University fall within your remit, and the Vice Chancellor and his team are accountable to you.
The Government expects its premier university to serve as a catalyst for development. This implies substantial contributions from the faculty, not only as academics for education provision and research generation, but also as constructive citizens who actively and positively engage in the economic, social and cultural development of the nation and humanity at large.
As a matter of urgency, I advise Council to identify a Substantive Vice Chancellor by 31st October 2021, and devise a framework to evaluate and re-orient the UTG’s contribution to national development.
It is essential for Council to sign a performance contract with the Vice Chancellor upon taking up office, and to hold him/her accountable for the University’s performance.
This makes it necessary for you to work towards appointing substantive Deputy Vice Chancellors by mid-November 2021.
I hope that you will endeavour also to ascertain that the new Vice Chancellor signs performance contracts with the Deans, similar to the contracts that will bind the academic staff to the Deans of their various faculties.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The issue of quality is a matter of utmost concern in this country, hence the need to accredit all university academic programmes by the National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority, NAQAA.
While I acknowledge, with deep appreciation, the efficiency of the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, I urge them to work with the Governing Council and NAQAA to ensure continual improvement of the University’s performance.
The attainment of quality programme delivery within the Gambian university community cannot be realised in the absence of NAQAA. It derives its mandate from the NAQAA Act, and must act upon it.
This important body has to ensure, therefore, that the University develops and implements programmes that are rationalised and relevant to national development.
I am convinced that, working together with the relevant higher education regulatory bodies and stakeholders, the UTG will evolve further to develop and implement a rigorous quality management system anchored on international standards.
In this way, it will overcome its academic and management shortcomings, while enhancing its research output significantly.
To institute financial discipline, we ask that you dedicate a substantial chunk of the UTG budget to academic quality, programme enhancement and equipment. Council should work on such issues in accordance with the University budgetary framework and strength.
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
In conclusion, I take this opportunity to wish all Council Members success, and I now have the pleasure to declare the UTG Governing Council officially inaugurated.
Thank you for your attention.