By Cecile Jatta edited by Yusef Taylor
On October 17th, Clock Technical and Vocational Education and Training (TVET) held a press conference at the American Corner to highlight their upcoming Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths (STEM) conference slated for November 29th – 30th at Baobab Hotel in Bijilo. The conference organised in collaboration with Greenwich Institute of Technology based in the UK focuses on the promotion of TVET and STEM training of young girls.
Clock TVET is a youth-led organisation created in February 2018 with the laudable ambition of enhancing the development of young girls and women in fulfilling their dreams through career development. The conference will feature high profile speakers across Africa including keynote speakers from Zambia, Kenya, and Ghana. The first lady Fatoumata Bah Barrow will be the guest of honor and presentations will be delivered by renowned Gambian professionals in Academia and the industry such as Dr. Ismaila Ceesay, Beran Dondeh, Hon Alhagie Mbow, Elizabeth Gomez, Ibrahim Ceesay, Amie Njie and Momodou Sabally.
During the press conference, the group’s executive director Miss Ida Faal spoke of her challenging journey through her STEM training. Miss Ida Faal studied automotive engineering spoke of her passion in promoting STEM and the high hopes she has for the TVET industry. She now works for Ali’s Garage as an intern in the mechanic field. Is that not amazing?
In an interview with Miss Faal she described the main challenges facing girls in STEM;
- Financial Support: Ida stressed the lack of financial support from both the govt and international bodies for their project. Financial support is important to purchase tools and fund training courses for promising trainees. Most of Clock TVET group members are students in the UTG and need financial support for their future trainees. At the moment the group holds meetings at their house and contribute out of pocket to fund their initiatives.
- Emotional Support: In the Gambian culture it’s still frowned upon for women to do work which is traditionally done by men such as auto mechanic etc. She lamented that the mentality of the average Gambian is very cultural and traditionally minded and dictates that TVET is a male-dominated field with no place for the girl child who belongs in the house. Most parents determine the chosen career for their children with technical work rarely featuring in their list of future jobs. Most parents want their daughters to become lawyers, accountants, doctors, teachers, etc but never carpenters, mechanics, welders or drivers. At one point she teared up as she explained how little support she received from her Mother in her ambition to become a mechanic. Her experiences drive her to advocate for parents to encourage their children to pursue a career they have a passion for.
Miss Ida Faal is a living example that women can do anything they put their mind to.
Elaborating on the group’s future plans towards national development they intend to;
- Open training centers in all seven regions in the country,
- Work hand in hand with the ministry of basic and secondary education to add the basic skills in the schools curriculums that will help in the development to the child. This is because we all cannot work in the office. Like the saying goes, “educate a girl child you educate the world”, and
- Currently, skills centres are dominated by boys and men; therefore they will be doing school visitations to elaborate on the importance of STEM to female students and to embark on initiatives to make existing skills centers more conducive for women.
After the group laid out their plan the floor was open for questions from the media at which point Fatima of Unique FM asked for the group’s Mission and Vision statement. “Clock TVET’s mission is to train young Gambian girls in STEM skills in order to contribute to national development, the group’s vision is to increase the number of Gambians taking up TVET as their preferred career choice.”
One of the questions asked highlighted that most Gambian organisations fail due to lack of financial support or lack of mentorship. How would Clock TVET ensure that their organisation does not suffer the same fate after a year or two? To which Lamin Dibba, responded emphatically “NO, WE WILL NEVER GIVE UP even if everyone gives up on us we will keep pushing, our ultimate objective is to see that if we are not here anymore the upcoming generation that will take up will still be committed to our pledge to national development. This is the main reason why we are reaching out to the young people, those in primary school etc.”
The press conference was concluded with the group re-echoing its call for all local and international bodies, public and private sector of the Gambia, to support their international conference which they day will bring a great change in the education of the girl child. Inspirational speeches will be given by guest speakers from Uganda, South Africa, Ethiopia, Ghana, Zambia and the guest of honor, the Gambia’s First lady.
The group intends to set up sub clubs in schools to help promote their grassroots initiatives. This press conference left a deep impression on What Women Want Show Host, Cecile Jatta who remarked that “I believe with this initiative we will make the Gambia a better place and provide an alternative for Gambian youths to develop the country instead of going to Arab countries or taking the back way to Europe for greener pastures.”
Application forms for the conference are available below. Prices for the students are D350 and D500 for non-students. Breakfast and lunch will be served for the two days. The group is looking forward to favorable responses for financial support to help their conference and future initiatives.
BELOW IS ACCOUNT NUMBER AND NAME IF INCASE YOU WANT TO SUPPORT
BANK NAME; ECO BACK, ACCOUNT NO: 00630249081770201
ACCOUNT NAME: CLOCK OF TVET7, EMAIL: firstname.lastname@example.org
CALL: ISATOU JALLOW 00220 9104520 / 3189766 or, SAINABOU NJIE 00220 3700003 / 7321222