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10 December 2009
In the next few weeks, a Christmas present with a difference will arrive in the Gambia, as part of a UK-wide appeal to support the development of the country’s higher education system.
On 4 December, a new shipment of 40 high-grade desktop computers left Cardiff on its way to the University of the Gambia, which once installed will significantly change the learning experience of thousands of students in the Gambia.
The Gambia is the smallest and one of the poorest countries in Africa, and until 2001 had no university of its own. Today, it is home to a growing institution, with 2,500 students and run by highly qualified Gambian professors who have returned home to set up the University.
And thanks to the generosity of staff across Cardiff University, staff and students at University of the Gambia are enjoying a growing academic library and soon-to-be better equipped computer facilities.
In 2008, staff at Cardiff undertook a major effort to provide the Gambian students with access to books and equipment in support of the Gambia University Appeal, a charitable organisation set up by the British Study Partnership.
For the last 12 months the International Office and Information Services have been coordinating the appeal across the University. The initial book appeal saw more than 1,000 textbooks from three of the University’s libraries (Science and Biomedical Science, Aberconway, and Bute Library) sent to University of the Gambia – forming the largest part of a shipment sent out to the Gambia in January 2009. This second appeal of computer equipment has once again been supported by Information Services.
Rhys Evans, a senior international officer in the International Office, said: "Our computer donation should be arriving in late January, and a room is already being prepared for their arrival. It should make a huge difference to the 2,500 students who are currently sharing a single computer laboratory in the University buildings, or have to trek several miles to use computers at a local Technical College.
"We are in a fortunate position to be able to help University of the Gambia. The Appeal is ongoing and I very much hope that we will continue to support it."
Mr Lamin Touray, Registrar of University of the Gambia, said: "Our University expands in student numbers every year to meet growing needs of our country, and yet our computer equipment does not increase to match these higher numbers. The gift from Cardiff University will enable us to furnish a new computer suite, which will allow more students to access computers and the internet."
The British Study Partnership, which is also raising vital funds for rebuilding works, is still looking for donations of all types of equipment, including badly needed laboratory equipment, projectors, photocopiers and always more computers.
Jane MacKenzie, Director of the British Study Partnership, said; "Gambia University plays a vital role in the future of young Gambians, but the University cannot currently teach many lab-based courses for lack of equipment. We would love to be able to run lab based courses, if equipment could be sourced to set up a suitable basic workshop, and this is why we are extending the Appeal."
In addition to equipment, Gambia University is also looking for volunteers and part-volunteers who might like to undertake teaching duties in the Gambia, even for a few weeks, or who would be prepared to offer help with mentoring from a distance.
If you would like any more information on the Appeal or to make a donation, contact contact Rhys Evans in the International Office on firstname.lastname@example.org or 02920 879 610.
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