Reports reaching Fatu Radio Network has confirmed that students at the University of The Gambia (UTG), Wednesday appeared ready for a protest over the newly introduced academic performance grading system, which came into effect a few weeks ago.
“It’s confirmed that the students were to stage a demonstration. They moved from law school building on MDI Road but were stopped from marching forward by security agents and escorted back to the law school… They are currently in negotiation with the minister of Higher Education. I am also told the Interior Minister and his PS [permanent secretary] together with some security officers are meeting with the students at the conference room of the law school,” said a source, who preferred anonymity.
According our source, the students had earlier written and complained to the vice chancellor of UTG, Professor Muhammodou Kah, demanding immediate overturn of the decision, but he reportedly rejected their request, leaving no room for a compromised outcome.
With the new grading system, students need 90-100% to have an A grade with 4.0 grade point and an outstanding rating. Few months ago, students need 80-100 for an A grade and 4.0 grade point with an outstanding rating.
Recently the UTG has been mired with a web of institutional turmoils. First, the arrest of Sait Matty Jaw, an administrative assistant at the UTG, together with Seth Yaw Kandeh and Olufemi Erinle Titus, Ghanaian and Nigerian nationals respectively, who were all arraigned in court and ordered to be locked up at the remand wing of the infamous Mile 2 Prison, by Magistrate Samsideen Conteh, in October last year. The three were charged with “conspiracy to commit misdemeanor, failure to register a business, and two counts of disobedience of statutory duty. The two foreign nationals, Kandeh and Titus would later plead guilty and paid their way out of court. However, Sait Matty Jaw, a Gambian citizen, pleaded not guilty and is still being forced to battle his innocence in court.
Last week, Gambians across the world were stunned by the news of the disappearance of a 22-year old youth and women’s rights activist Aminata Manneh (fondly known by her Facebook sobriquet Minah Manneh), a student at the UTG, where academic freedom is put on constant check and independent student activism discouraged. Aminata was forced to cross into a neighboring country in dreadful circumstances after receiving barrage of threats following her online video posting of a Gambian traffic police personnel publicly lynching a young school girl on a busy street. Minah had to run for her life after some misguided members of the Gambian security establishment flooded her cellphone with unknown phone calls hurling threats of arrest. Some targeted her social media account with suspicious personal questions suggestive of profiling her identity for arrest or for worse.