WORLD

Five Gambian high school pupils denied US visas

FIVE GAMBIAN HIGH SCHOOL PUPILS DENIED US VISAS

Five high school pupils from The Gambia, who built a robot for an international competition in the United States, have been denied visas to accompany their invention, a Gambian official confirmed Tuesday.

The pupils between the ages of 16 and 18 had assembled the robot to take part in the First Global robotics competition scheduled for July 16 in Washington DC.

Moctar Darboe, director of The Gambia's Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, told Dakar-based sub-regional broadcaster West Africa Democracy Radio that all the five pupils "who are the best science learners in the country" had been rejected.

"The only reason provided by the [U.S] embassy in [Gambian capital Banjul] was that they were not qualified. The pupils are disappointed," he said.

"The only option we have now is to ship the robot to the U.S. so it would be considered in the competition which is in a few days. This is discouraging for the pupils as this is their first major project," Darboe added.

Fatoumata Sisay and Alieu Jallow, two of the pupils denied visas, said that they had built the robot during the holy month of Ramadan in June.

"We were so stressed that we hardly broke our fasting during this project," they said. "It's not good news, but we will continue to pursue our dreams," they added.

According to the organizers, around 158 countries will be represented at the competition including 40 African countries. The teams from The Gambia and Afghanistan are the two who have been denied visas so far.

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