The MoBSE Education programme embraces the expanded vision of Basic Education for all. Commencing at the very first level, the Education Programme will continue to promote a holistic approach to early child education and development with private providers through training of the caregivers. Close supervision of Nursery and Childcare centres to ensure standards set for children-friendly environment and care for ages 3 �6 are met in every part of the country, especially in the rural areas where we will continue to work closely with Community Development offices. From ages 7 � 16 a nine-year uninterrupted Basic Education which has already been attained in the Upper River, Central River, Lower River, and North Bank Region in the last term of the government will continue to be pursued. For the next five years KMC, Banjul and Western Division with over 90% transition from grade 6-7 will be assured of 100% transition. The provision of universal access to Basic Education will be complemented with enhanced quality and relevant curricula, the modalities of which are already in place through the increased output of teachers at the Gambia College and the continued training and retraining of teachers through in-service, diploma and degree levels training at the University of the Gambia among others. Through the enhanced training of teachers over the last seven years the output of PTC tripled while HTCs quadrupled. In the next five years, a minimum of 80% trained teachers is anticipated at the Basic level.
The construction programme for additional classrooms and the establishment of new schools to cope with the expansion of universal Basic Education will continue. In addition, for very remote areas, the programme will include purpose built teachers quarters already started with the schools built in some rural communities for the enhancement of teacher welfare. The motivation of teachers will be given the fullest attention possible to ensure that teachers enjoy the profession and give of their very best for the total development of all Gambian children.
Universal access will be assured by making special provisions for the girl-child and physically challenged through the incentive package that assures free education of all girls in poverty stricken communities and special allowances for teachers and care givers in Special Education institutions like the school for the deaf, blind and other children with learning difficulties. Meanwhile, children with mild physical disaffections will be mainstreamed while additional facilities/centres created in some of the rural communities for others with more severe conditions.
Already the girls' scholarship scheme to boost the enrolment, performance and retention of girls exists in Upper River and Central River, the designated two poorest regions, for over 2100 girls. The scheme will be extended into the Lower River and North Bank Divisions commencing after the Presidential Elections this year. In Banjul, KMC and Western Divisions the scheme will specifically target girls from poor families and girls who perform well in Maths, Science and Technology. In this regard 400 scholarships for girls will be provided in the greater Banjul area commencing after the 2001 elections.
For the 10% of the school-aged population in the Madrassa, the curriculum is being synchronized with that of conventional schools and English language introduced as a subject. In-service training will be extended to Koranic teachers for skills upgrading.
To enhance attendance of all children especially in poorer regions, school lunches are provided for over 60, 000 children in the last five years. This figure will be doubled to accommodate the urban poor in the greater Banjul area schools in the next government action plan.
The expanded vision of Basic Education includes literacy and skills training for women, youth and other adults who missed out on earlier opportunities. The inputs of all NGOs will be harnessed and through the support of polyvalent teachers add value to the literacy and skills training programme. It is envisaged that by targeting a minimum of 20,000 illiterate and semi-literate youth, especially girls and women, the illiterate population for ages 15 and above will drop drastically by the end of the next term of the Government and their participation in national development enhanced.