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24 US Educators Converge on Gambia Teacher Prize

By Sanna Camara

Mr Alhassan Susso left The Gambia at age 16 to the USA. As a visually-challenged teenager, he went through high school education and college to become a teacher. By 2019, he was recognised as New York Teacher of the Year. In 2020, he was USA National Education Association Teaching Excellence Awardee and the 2020 Horace Mann Teacher of the Year. Now, he looks back home to launch National Teacher Prize to motivate and recognize outstanding teachers of The Gambia through a private initiative of the Namie Foundation.

The National Teacher Prize of The Gambia is scheduled for the 15th February 2024. Mr Susso as the Chairman and the Board of The Namie Foundation, and the Organizing Committee of this National Teacher Prize 2024, comprising representatives of the Ministry of Basic Education, Gambia Teachers Union, educators and other professionals, will have a convergence of the delegation of 24 US educators to The Gambia today in Banjul. This delegation also comprised top-notch educationists in the US, drawn from academia, personal development and other subject specialists.

So far, the organizing committee had been meeting with various stakeholders to update them in preparation for the event, among these is the Vice President, Muhammed S. Jallow, who, as an educationist, was also former education planner and administrator prior to his political role as Vice President. VP Jallow pledged support to this cause on top of the two ministries of Basic and Secondary Education, and Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, respectively. He described it as “laudable.”

“All of us have gone through teaching. Each one can recall his or her best teacher in school. So, this recognition will go a long way in motivating teachers in the teaching sector,” Jallow said at a briefing held at his office during the week. He assured the organizing committee of the government’s support through adding its voice to the recognition of teachers to national development.

During the visit of the delegation, they will be opportune to discover The Gambia’s unique culture, heritage sites, beautiful beaches, and the hospitality of her people that gives it the brand, “Smiling Coast of Africa”, said Mr Alhassan Susso, who flew into Banjul ahead of the delegation’s arrival to support the team on the ground for the ongoing preparations.

“The visit will also explore the education system through interactions with officials of the respective ministries of education, union leaders of Gambian teachers and school visits during the week, leading to the gala of the 15th February 2024,” said Mr Susso, whose work also earned him among the 50 top educators globally, by the Varky Foundation.

At the Ministry of Civil Service and Policy Delivery, Minister Baboucarr Boye, former Permanent Secretary of MoBSE and career educationist and administrator, welcomed the initiative to recognize teachers for the amazing work they undertake each day for the nation. Similar pledges were received at the Minstry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, where Prof. Pierre Gomez also committed to supporting the cause.

“I recall the launch of the Foundation last year and it is quite touching that as a Diaspora Gambian, Mr Susso has not forgotten his origins after such great accomplishments,  and comes home to give back to his country in the form of this prize,” said former educator and current Minister of Information, Lamin Queen Jammeh. “He deserves all the support we can give,” Minister Jammeh said.

Meanwhile, seven winners have been selected across each educational region of the country. The assessment was undertaken by an independent panel of judges drawn from educational backgrounds, most of them retired, two as heads of schools of education of Gambia College and the University of The Gambia, respectively. At the event on Thursday, a national winner will be unveiled, with a cash prize of D100, 000 and each of the regional winners taking home D50,000, with certificates and crystals.

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