Africa-Press – Gambia. By Yunus S Saliu Students in The Gambia are getting more aware of the existence and importance of World Heritage sites located across the country as the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC) is doing everything possible within its corridor to expose and attract more visitors to the country’s heritage sites.
According to UNESCO publication on 5th November, from June to October 2021, over Gambian 300 secondary school students have attended at least one discovery and training session at one of the two Stone Circles of Senegambia World Heritage sites in the country (two more are located in Senegal). Wassu and Kerr Batch sites have been visited under the guidance of trained tour guides and teachers as well as staff from the National Centre for Arts and Culture (NCAC). These educational visits are part of the roadmap of the International Assistance project – Strengthening the Valorization of the Stone Circles of the Senegambia, supported by UNESCO through its World Heritage Fund.
With the support of the World Heritage Centre and the UNESCO Dakar Office, the NCAC has developed information and exercise kits for the sessions, which take place on-site. Following these visits, students are encouraged to create and perform theatre plays on conservation issues affecting World Heritage sites in The Gambia.
The teaching materials developed will be used as well at the primary school of Sine Ngayène, close to one of the two Stone Circles sites in Senegal, which bears the same name. This cross-country effort led by the NCAC and the Department of Cultural Heritage (DPC) of Senegal is a successful example of south-south cooperation to draw on the potential of African heritage as a force for social cohesion and a driver of sustainable development and innovation.
Teachers and communities are also key actors of these activities: 17 teachers from 7 schools close to the sites have been engaged, and a series of dialogues with 22 village chiefs, imams, elders and 2 district chiefs have been organized.
In addition to working with schools, the Gambian NCAC and the DPC of Senegal have trained 16 Gambian and 5 Senegalese nationals on tour guiding for the Stone Circles of Senegambia sites. The 6-day training workshop held on 9 to 17 February enabled trainees to become future tour guides of the sites and give comprehensive and reliable insights to researchers and tourists. Some of them have already participated in the school activities.
The project: Strengthening the Valorization of the Stone Circles of the Senegambia, started in October 2020. Since then, it has allowed for the development of signage and exhibition panels at Wassu and Kerr Batch sites, the refurbishment of exhibition halls of the sites’ museums and the above-mentioned capacity building activities.