Formulating open schooling policy in The Gambia

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The Commonwealth of Learning (COL) is providing technical support to the Ministry of Basic and Secondary (MoBSE) in The Gambia towards the development of a national open distance learning (ODL) policy for schooling as a precursor to establishing a new open school to be named The Gambia School of Open Learning (GAMSOL).

At a workshop held recently in Banjul at the Curriculum, Research, Evaluation and Development Directorate, 13 officials from different directorates engaged with stakeholders in developing the national ODL policy. The workshop resulted not only in the draft of a new national ODL policy for basic and secondary education, but also a formal draft charter to establish GAMSOL.

Meanwhile, MoBSE’s content development team, with an open schooling expert provided by COL, successfully completed the development of Grade 10 materials in mathematics, English, general science, auto mechanics, metalwork, woodwork, history, electrical installation, fisheries and home science.

The materials development process involved a one-week, in-country workshop followed by online support to develop a text and graphics version of the course materials, which could be exported to PDF and printed or downloaded to a basic device at a Wi-Fi-enabled centre and then supplemented with audio, video and interactive online content for those with higher end devices and/or regular internet access. In early January 2024, a similar process was initiated to start work on Grade 11 content.

Dr Tony Mays, who leads COL’s Open Schooling initiative, observed, “A typical school subject represents about 120 notional learning hours, and a typical distance education school course in print format can easily run to 500 or more pages. Therefore, the content development process is time-consuming, as is the policy development and ratification process. Fortunately, the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, The Gambia, has managed both processes concurrently, which will shorten the time to implementation.”

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