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On the 4th of December 2018, two 40 foot containers filled with furniture and laboratory material left for The Gambia from the Port of Antwerp. The tables, chairs, filing cabinets, safes, incubators, and laboratory tables that came from the VUB will be getting a second life at the University of The Gambia (UTG).
Jimmy Nzally, Gambian and PhD student in Political Science at Vrije Universiteit Brussel (VUB), initiated the project and organised the shipment. Gambian science students will benefit from the laboratory equipment whereas the entire university, including the administration, will benefit from the other materials.
“This project is a personnel endeavour to help the University of The Gambia (UTG). It is a university which faces basic infrastructural problems and does not have a functioning library, labs and well-furnished classrooms. For example, students struggle to have chairs as well as tables to attend classes and science students do not have laboratories to carry out their experiments. I have passed through this reality as a Gambian who lived and studied in such a challenging environment. Therefore, studying at the VUB, I find it imperative to think about home.”
Founded in 1999, the University of The Gambia (UTG) is the only public (state) higher education institution of the country. The partnership with the VUB started as a result of the EU CARIBU Erasmus Mundus project in which UTG/Gambian students have been welcomed at the VUB’s English-taught programmes. This project ended in 2016. Since then, The Gambia has not been onVLIR-UOS’ list of potential collaboration partners. However, the VUB’s International Relations office submitted and won a European KA107 project for mobility with The Gambia which will give several UTG exchange students the opportunity to come to VUB for their studies, but also includes staff mobility in both directions.
Jimmy Nzally: “I would like to thank all the colleagues (local and international students) who volunteered to help fill up the containers with furniture and laboratory equipment. We hope to have more in the future, as they will make difference back home especially regarding educational materials.”