By Own Correspondent – Pearson Plc, a leading and internationally acclaimed publishing company last Thursday launched its businesses in The Gambia.
Publishers of the Gambia Mathematics and English textbooks for junior and secondary education, the Pearson company also signed a partnership agreement with the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education as part of the launching.
Regarded as the largest education company and the largest book publishers in the world, Pearson Plc has consumer imprints including Penguin, Dorling Kindersley and Ladybird, Heinemann (brand owners of African Writers Series), Ginn, Longman and Rigby.
The company is represented in The Gambia by Toplink Consulting. It owns Edexcel, one of the five main examination boards in the United Kingdom, providing a variety of qualifications including, A levels (GCEs), GCSEs and the BTCEC suite of vocational qualifications. It also offers work-based learning qualifications – including BTEC apprenticeship and NVQs.
The visit by the top echelons of Pearson Publishing and Education Company is aimed among others at building bridges that are meant to aid Gambian educationalists, students and authors, as well as provide avenues for strategically positioning the country for rapid development in the education, including help in the realization of the MDGs.
In his launching statement, at the ceremony held at the Sheraton Hotel in Brufut, Baboucarr Bouye, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, said that his ministry has, through its pronouncements in the Education Policy 2004-2015, prioritized the provision of relevant teaching and learning materials as one of the strategies to improve the quality of education service delivery in the country’s education system.
“It is against this background that the Ministry undertook to develop and print core textbooks for students in Grades 1 to 9 on a regular basis, to ensure an adequate supply of such an important learning tool in the education system,” Bouye stated.
According to him, during the last five years, the Education ministry has published and printed grades 1 to 6 textbooks in the core subjects of Mathematics, Science, Social and Environmental Studies which have enabled the sector achieve a 1 to 1 student textbook ratio.
The process leading to the provision of these textbooks, PS Bouye added, attracted the interest of both local and international printing and publishing companies, which not only demonstrates the interest they have in the education sector, but also their desire to offer valuable services at competitive costs.
Bouye noted that the celebration of the new partnership is a testimony to the commitment that Pearson Education has to participate in the sector’s activities.
Alex Moore, Africa Publishing Manager for the publishing company, underscored Pearson’s delight in securing such a partnership with the Ministry of Education, adding that it will yield fruits in the future.
“Pearson helps learners all over the world to improve their life chances. We work with educators to understands their priorities and develop programmes that are tailored to meet their specific needs,” he said, adding that their expertise covers the full range of educational services.
According to him, the company works on curriculum and qualification development, teaching and learning resources, English Language learning, educational technology and e-learning, national and institution-based assessment and teacher and leadership development.
Said Usuf, Pearson’s Gambia representative, hailed both Pearson and the Education Ministry for partnering in education, which he noted is paramount for development.
“We are a global leader in providing complete, integrated education solutions and we look forward to establishing long term partnership with the Ministry of Education, and with all stakeholders in the advancement of education in The Gambia.”
Katie Smith, West Africa Publisher and Euan Philipps, Assistant Africa Marketing Manager, all gave a brief powerpoint presentation on Pearson products and services.
The launching ceremony was chaired by Cherno Barry, Secretary General of The Gambia Writers Association.