I am in full support of the ongoing teacher’s for change led sit down strike.
If the Gambia teachers’ union turns from and institutions that is established to stand for the interest and needs of the teaching fraternity in Gambia into a propaganda machinery of The Ministry of Basic and Secondary School (MoBSE) to perpetuate their agendas ; it becomes unquestionably right for the teachers to create their initiatives to restore their dignity,respect and worth.
It could be recall in February 2018, teachers engaged in a sit down strike after their six points demands was not met by MoBSE. The initial unwise reaction of MoBSE was to threaten teachers to go back to school or face punishment and when MoBSE realised that teachers were never move by their empty threats, they were finally forced to diplomatically sit in the negotiation table and signed six points resolutions along GTU and The Minister for Higher Education Research Science and Technology (MoHRSHT). The use of threat initially manifest the administrative incapacity of MoBSE to peaceful negotiate with the teachers and listen to their ordeals. On the other hand signing the resolution indicates that the way out to peaceful end the contengious issues affecting the teachers which enticed teachers to got back in the classrooms with the believed that MoBSE will ethnically and morally respect what they signed.
From February to September nothing meaningfully happened this obviously will leave the teachers with no option , but rightfully revive the strike until their rightful and legitimate demands are met.
It so disheartening for GTU who in the first place should stand for teachers’ legitimate interest, to describe the teachers’ demand as unrealistic. This clearly manifests that either GTU do not comprehend their responsibility as voices, ears and eyes of teachers, fails to constitutional distinguished between union and state or unwilling want to be a propaganda institutions of MoBSE to intimidation teacher for both institutions’ self perpetuating ends.
A school of thought in public administration points out that” the fact that civil servants are agents of public power proving services on which law, order, and public health depend, has raised the question whether they should strike, and another school indicates that “if they cannot lawfully strike, they are deprived of the main weapon in pressing improvement in the condition of service. ” This strike in that is the only opportunity for teachers to press for improvement of conditions of services and I support them 100%. What are the “realistic demand” of the teachers as unwisely mentioned by GTU :
1. “End delays of payment of allowances ” only a person using a rust color glasses will believed this point is unrealistic . Allowances are not not gift or aid, they are legitimate entitlements of teachers and must be paid on time. It is traumatizing for untimely payment of any human being for their work talk-less of a teachers who anchors the development processes of any state.
Taking myself as a former teacher for example ; I was appointed as a qualified teacher in the 16th day of January,2016 but so sadly and humanizing enough I have to unwilling and painfully wait for almost four months to receive my salary. Records don’t lie let MoBSE check their archives. I can very well remember in March, 2016 when the pay master came to my former school, Panchang Upper and Senior Secondary School, the payment master for CRR north reached our school to pay salaries of teachers on counter. I patiently and painfully waited for all my colleagues to received their salary , when it reaches my turn, the pay master asked my employment number and some other details which I gave him peaceful, but so sadly, the pay master carefully goes through the voucher in search of my name , but could not see it. This left me with no option, but to isolate myself from the other teachers and went to my office and reflect and couldn’t eventually couldn’t control my tears . My Trawelly , Mathematics teacher by then can bear me witnesses. Trawelly cools me down and encouraged me to keep faith.
I lived the story; it was never a fiction. This just a hint of how teachers struggle in doing the most important national duties. Teachers and all administrators both in GTU and MoBSE knows better what teachers goes through.
2.”Increment of Salaries ” ‘ No human being in this world can pay a teacher ;only God can considering the role they play in the socioeconomic development of the Gambia. Despite our patriotism, Pan African we need remunerations that will allow us take good of our families and provide our basic need. Even the first citizen of the state, receives a fat salary despite his love for the country. Increasing teachers salary is not something impossible. Considering the wastage of sovereign national wealth on travels. For example over 230 million is spent on the travels and per diems of our state managers just for seven months. If the state confers are red this whooping amount of money won’t be use for travels only. The state should mobilise well the sovereign national wealth and address the need of the sovereign citizens.
It true that democracy is expensive, governance is expensive, foreign policy is expensive and the Gambia needs to peruse her foreign policy objectives, but nation states first level their national policies and programmes then relate with partners in the international system to strengthen the national policies and other initiatives, thus a foreign policy is and extension of national policy.
The political executive should first level our Schools, hospitals, farmlands, forests and other critical areas of development so that any outside assistant is just going to be complementary. This was the secret of the Asian tiggers that led to their developmental successes .
3.” increments of double-shift to 100%” It more than fair for teachers who are teaching double-shift and again it only someone putting on a rust colored glasses will view this full payment of the teachers as “unrealistic” The ministry either train more teachers to fill all vacancy post in the teaching sector or pay teacher in full not half of their earning. This is a clear indication of the capitalist and the exploitation mechanism that the teachers were painful enduring. It is now time to change the system in the drive to improving condition of service.
Other demad such provision of professional identity cards for teachers and payment of hardship allowance to Teacher trainees posted in hardship zones are genuine and legitimate demands of teachers that must be meet if sanity is to be restored in our ugly educational system.
Finally, the failure of students’ in the past examinations in both nationally and internationally in my opinion is the fault of MoBSE . This was a result of not proving sound leadership and the administrative capacity to take our education in the right direction. It is sad to realised that teaching and learning materials are not sufficient especially in school in the country side. Approved literally texts by WACE/ WASSE where children are examine from are not enough if available, scientific apparatus are not enough if available, scientific laboratories in both Gambia College or University where teachers are trained are like grave yards not enough equipment if available . Will you blame teachers for the unavailability of this important teaching and learning materials? Look for the production and productivity of teachers and production of positive learner’s outcome give teachers what belongs to them and improve their condition of the services.