Cognizant of the importance of mother-tongue languages in fostering understanding among people of the same language and the need for the conservation of all national languages, the education system administrators in the Gambia are driven to pursue the teaching of national languages in the school system.
With strong political will national languages in the Gambia are envisaged to be taught in the school system up to tertiary level. Up to the year 2017, five national languages were already being taught in schools around the country at the lower basic school level. The 2015 – 2030 education policy has specifically made pronouncements about the need for bolstering the use of national languages.
With the foregoing background, the Gambia National Commission for UNESCO organized a workshop on the harmonization of the Serer and Manjaku languages. This workshop was initiated on the basis of consolidating the efforts of revalorization of the Serer and Manjaku languages as cross-border languages spoken in both Senegal and the Gambia and they play an important role in the maintenance of the cultural values of the people.
In attendance at the opening ceremony were the Permanent Secretary Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Saip Sy UNESCO Dakar, Literacy specialist, represented the Regional Director of the UNESCO Office in Dakar, Programmes staff of the Gambia National Commission for UNESCO, the national languages teachers of the Gambia and linguistic experts and teacher trainers from Senegal. A representative of the Gambia College, a teacher training institution was also in attendance.
Following the interaction of participants and experts from Senegal it was realized that there is profound need to upscale this synchronization of orthography to all national languages common to both the Gambia and Senegal. Apparently, consensus was made also for a standardized codification of all national languages to be pursued and dictionaries produced to facilitate easy learning. The education authorities were tasked to organized further consultations between the two countries in the form of study visits to learn best practices from each other, especially for the Gambia. On another level it was suggested that for Manjaku a forum where Guinea Bissau will be brought on board should be organized. Such platform will give impetus for a greater harmonization as Guinea is where majority of Manjaku speaking people originate from.