Case study

MDG 3 - Education for all in The Gambia

The Gambia has worked directly to address gender disparity in education, particularly in poor rural communities.

The Gambia: School children. Picture: Government of The Gambia
The Gambia: School children. Picture: Government of The Gambia

Legislative reform in The Gambia, combined with government investment, is delivering education for all, with especially good results for girls. The Gambia has worked directly to address gender disparity in education, particularly in poor rural communities.

The Gambia allocates a large proportion of its annual budget to uphold the constitutional right of every child to basic education. In 2011, 20% of the national budget was committed to primary and secondary education. The vast change in basic education enrollment rates that has taken place in recent years is largely due to the government of The Gambia’s investment; constructive engagement with the madrassa system of schools has also been crucial.

Primary school net enrollment increased from 52% in 2000 to 61% in 2006, with government figures estimating 90% enrollment in 2011. The increased enrollment by girls is the single most important factor for the change in primary enrollment ratios, with the largest gains made in the poorest and most rural regions. The ratio of girls to boys in primary education rose from 0.74 in 1996 to 1.04 in 2004 and, for lower secondary, it increased from 0.72 in 1996 to 1.00 in 2008. Upper secondary ratios were 0.44 in 1996 and reached 0.94 in 2008. Since then, basic and secondary enrollment ratios have maintained parity.

The Gambia enshrined education as a basic right in 1997. The Education Policy (2004) and the Children’s Act (2005) mandated free and compulsory basic education. The Children’s Act establishes basic education as compulsory and assigns duties to government and to parents and guardians. School children do not pay fees to attend Grades 1-6. Grades 7-9 require fees, but girls are either charged lower fees than boys or are exempted. In 2010, all girls received fee exemptions to encourage attendance. This effort to increase enrollment by girls in schools has been enhanced by the Girls’ Scholarship Trust Fund, the Girl/Child Friendly School Initiative, and the President’s Empowerment for Girls’ Education Project.

Now the challenge is that increasing access to education must go hand in hand with improving the quality of education and, in particular, school management and student learning outcomes.

Key facts

The Gambia enshrined education as a right in 1997.

The Education Policy (2004) and the Children’s Act (2005) mandated free and compulsory basic education.

The Children’s Act establishes compulsory basic education as law, and assigns duties to Government and parents/guardians

School children do not pay fees to attend Grades 1-6. Grades 7-9 do require fees, but girls are charged lower fees than boys or are exempted.

In 2010, all girls received fee exemptions to encourage attendance. This effort to increase enrollment by girls in schools has been enhanced by the Girls’ Scholarship Trust Fund, the Girl/Child Friendly School Initiative, and the President’s Empowerment for Girls’ Education Project.

More info: www.edugambia.gm

Published 19 September 2011