The Gambia is located on the Atlantic coast of Africa, and is the smallest country on the continent, surrounded on three side by Senegal. The River Gambia springs from the Highlands of Fouta Djallon and runs right through the Gambias long, narrow strip of land before flowing into the ocean at the west coast.
Not counting its flourishing tourist trade, The Gambia is one of the poorest countries in the world. The political stability that the country enjoys through its independence, has not meant a rise in living standards for most Gambians. The Gambia is one of the countries of the world that is poorer today than it was 30 years ago.
Three quarters of all Gambians are farmers, and mostly grow millet and peanuts, but only one sixth of the land is fertile. The UN World Food Programme has found that these difficult conditions are made worse by The Gambia’s weak market economy and lack of technological know-how, leading to a very weak agriculture industry.
60% of The Gambia’s population are under 25 years old, with little, or no, access to education or training, and as a result with little chance to getting an income (Source: CIA-World Factbook). The need for more training positions has long been known by the government. The Gambia’s constitution, that has been in place since 1997, as well as its education Act from 1963 contain specific details about providing training and education for young people. Other documents in a similar line can be found under Strategy for Poverty Alleviation and this article about the government’s “Vision 2020” strategy. The latter discusses making “credit, finance, technology, improvements in education, skills, training and institutional support services,” available to young people to create new jobs, which should help them out of the poverty trap.
The high number of early school leavers is a particular challenge for the vocational and professional training system in The Gambia. As few children reach the required standards for English or maths in primary school, many have great problems when they get to higher levels. As a result a large number of young people drop out of school, enter the job market with a low level of education and in so doing have low chances of finding a job (Source: UNESCO).
As the government has not been able to resolve this problem, it is still not in the position to train enough skilled workers locally: For the most part skilled workers come from neighbouring countries.