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The Education system in the Gambia

How is the education system in the Gambia? The Constitution mandates free and compulsory primary education in the Gambia, but a lack of resources and educational infrastructure has made implementation difficult.[1] In 1995, the gross primary enrollment rate was 77.1 percent and the net primary enrollment rate was 64.7 percent.

The school-going age in the Gambia is officially seven years. The education system, which is largely based on the British system, consists of the following:

  • Six years of primary schooling: grades 1–6
  • Three years of junior secondary schooling: grades 7–9
  • Three years of senior secondary schooling: grades 10–12
  • Four years of university education

At the end of grades 6 and 9, there are selection examinations to proceed to the next level. At the end of grade 9 people have the option to go into the skills centres which provide pre-vocational training. At the end of grade 12, depending on their performance in the West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), students have the option to go into the Technical Training Institute, which provides vocational and technical education; go into Gambia College which provides pre-service training for teachers, nurses, public health officers and agricultural supervisors; or they can go to university or join the labour force.

How the Education system in the Gambia is divided

PrimaryBasic School1–97–126 
MiddleUpper Basic School7–913–163 
SecondarySenior Secondary School10–1216–193 
Post-secondaryPost-secondary Certificate2 

Primary Education

Education in the Gambia takes place in 5 stages, namely lower basic, upper basic and secondary school, followed by undergraduate and graduate university. Although the 6 years of lower basic education at least is compulsory and free, a lack of universal facilities prevents this from becoming a reality for some. There is a selection examination at the end of this period which is the hurdle to continuing further.

Middle Education

Lower basic education continues for another 3 years leading to a junior school certificate.

Secondary Education

Those students whose parents can afford the cost of ongoing education and forgo an extra family income too, enjoy the relative luxury of 3 years at senior secondary school. Their core curriculum includes English language, mathematics, integrated science and social studies. They also take 3 – 4 elective subjects too, which may centre on commerce, science or the arts. Finally, they sit for their west African senior secondary certificate examination.

Vocational Education

The Gambian Technical Training Institute was established in 1983 to manage programs in association with City & Guilds, Pitman Training UK and the Royal Society of the Arts. Its programs have expanded considerably in the interim, and it now offers more than 60 courses.

Tertiary Education

The Gambia College provides non-degree training in agriculture, science, nursing and midwifery, education, catering, and management.

The University of the Gambia was established in 1999, and offers undergraduate programs in humanities & social studies, economics & management science, and nursing and public health. It also offers 6 year courses in medicine and surgery too.


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The Education system in the Gambia

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