By Kebba Ansu Manneh

National Accreditation and Quality Assurance Authority (NAQAA) has endorsed the validation of the Performing Arts, Cookery, and Pastry curriculum drafted by the Institute for Travel and Tourism of The Gambia (ITToG). The curriculum is meant to be used as a teaching syllabus for the students of the institute.

Bakary B. Manneh, Direct of Quality Assurance of NAAQA commended the Board of Directors, Management, Staff, and partners of ITToG for taking such a bold initiative in coming up with a curriculum that will direct and guide the school in delivering quality education. He affirmed that since its inception, the institute has been striving to deliver quality education to the doorsteps of the teeming youthful population of the country.

He disclosed that ITToG has done almost 90 percent of the work in developing the teaching standards with its partners, but to further develop the teaching standard stakeholders’ input becomes necessary which has prompted the workshop.

According to him, the experts gathered will make a review of the curriculum, and adjust or minus where necessary so that a comprehensive curriculum with the local appeal can be developed. He noted that the curriculum developed will serve for 5 years before reviewing again.

Sheikh Tejan Nyang, Head of School of ITTOG welcomed participants to the review and validation exercise which his institute has considered a milestone in the history of the institute.

“As an institution that for years is specialized in travel and tourism studies, we have always been looking at areas that could bridge the gap between tourism, the Arts, and culture which of cause includes the teaching of our cuisine linked to an international audience or market,” Shiekh Tejan Nyang, disclosed.

He added: “Tourism, we all know is a very competitive industry, and given recent developments with the pandemic and the effects of climate change, where some countries in Europe are recording over 40 degrees warm climate, there is the likelihood that tourists will travel more within their local destinations than travelling for thousands of miles to seek the warm weather in countries like The Gambia.

“It is therefore important for training institutions like ITTOG to look at areas that younger generation will be trained on that make us unique as a destination.”

According to him, What makes the Gambia a unique destination is its Arts and Culture industry that continues to attract visitors to the country. But said The Gambia has a long way to go in these areas necessitating the need to search for knowledge and support in building the creative and performing arts of the country.

He disclosed that ITToG has recently signed an agreement with the famous Senegalese School of Arts known as Ecole National Des Arts with the view to giving life to the creative and performing Arts industry.

“You will agree with me that we have a lot to learn in these areas from our Senegalese brothers and sisters who have a well-structured cultural industry. Recently, we have also gotten in touch with BabouCeesay, a renowned Gambian British film actor who has assured us he will collaborate to make our dreams come true,” the Head of School stated.

SheikhTejan Nyang, also a former Director of Tourism commended the Ministry of Tourism and Culture and NCAC in particular who have been very helpful from the very beginning.

“The area of Arts and culture is very wide and we want to put in record that we will work with all stakeholders that want to work with us.

Noting that the Art Education project is sponsored by the ACP-EU CULTURE PROGRAM: SUPPORT FOR THE CULTURAL AND CREATIVE SECTORS IN WEST AFRICA (AWA) as they will sponsor hands-on training for 30 young people in the performing Arts,” ITToG Chief disclosed.

He added that the “project will help us start an Art Education department at ITTOG, this will be the first in The Gambia. The partnership with Ecole National Des Arts (ENA) of Senegal will help us develop the relevant curriculum in Level 3 Diploma in the performing arts and the second year develop Level 3 Advance Diploma Course.”

He revealed that ITToG has secured sponsorship funding for only one year with the hope that in the second year it will be assisted by local institutions like NCAC to subsidize the tuition fees of the students doing Certificate in Basic Culinary Art and Food processing, noting that ITToG have also piloted this course in the teaching of Cookery, Pastry and Food Processing for 30 women dubbed “NO WOMAN LEFT BEHIND” that was supported by the Catalan Agency for Cooperation and Development

He finally commended doyens of the tourism and creative arts industry including ModouJoof, Tejan Camara, and Cornelius Gomez, while also attributing gratitude to Chef Bojang, President Chefs Association, Food Safety, GTBoard, Medical and Health, GTHI, NCAC among others.