By Yankuba Jallow/Louise Jobe/Nelson Manneh/Kebba Mambury
Teachers in most Mission Schools in the country, have embarked on a sit-down strike, Foroya can report. The sit-down strike which started on Friday 9th March 2018, is said to be ongoing as confirmed by our reporters.
The Mission School teachers said the options they have is twofold: their problems are solved or they continue the sit-down strike. A Network of Mission School Teachers (NMST), had a meeting at the ST. Therese’s Upper Basic School on Kairaba Avenue on the 8th March 2018, to discuss payment of salaries and allowances.
According to the NMST, the reasons for the strike include the payment of salaries on time and for the secretariat to pay them their allowances.
The Executive of the Network said they had a meeting some weeks ago concerning issues that bothers them and that is every missionary teacher face delay in the payment of their salaries and allowances; that this has been irregular for the past 3 years. The Executive further indicate that they discuss with many of Heads of Mission Schools but no one has been sincere in their discussions with them; that they went to the extend of meeting with the Father at Father Farrell Hall in Kanifing, to discuss with him about the issue of salaries and allowances; but that things have remained the same, after the meeting with the father.
“If other teachers under Government receive salaries on time, then why not us?” the executive member of NMST asked.
He said the Father promised them change in February, but that things remain the same.
Another member of the network said Mission Schools under Government control, have equal rights with Government or state-owned Schools; that they should be given their dues or they continue with the strike by staying at home.
The NMST said they have lost confidence due to actions of the Father who has been mediating and that such cannot continue; that they have no other option than embark on the sit-down strike; that for over three years, nothing has changed.
However, there has been mixed reactions from some quarters of the teachers. Some expressed that it is good to embark on the sit-down strike to raise genuine concerns but that they should put into account that the days they will miss during the sit-down strike, will also not be paid.
In a related development, girl students of some of the affected Schools took to the streets on Friday, demanding for the return of their teachers.
This came about when teachers of the affected Schools failed to show up for lessons. Visiting most of these Mission Schools and others in Regions One and Two, these reporters noticed that no teaching took place on Friday and many of the students can be seen roaming within the school’s premises, even though the head teachers of the Schools visited, were present.
At the St. Therese’s School, students took to the streets demanding for their teachers return.
According to the teachers on strike, they will continue indefinitely, until their demands are met.
Readers can recall that sometime in February 2018, teachers in public Schools embarked on a similar strike that posed a threat to the performance of students in forthcoming examinations, including the WASSCE and Grade Nine exams.
According to the teachers, the Gambia unlike other countries, have the lowest paid teachers on the Government pay scale; that this is unfair on their side and that they should be treated fairly because they teach the future leaders of the country.