BY: Aja Musu Bah-Daffeh
The president of the Republic, Adama Barrow, has pledged to give his government’s support and endorsement to the Gambia Teaching Trust (GTT) as they gear up towards the highly anticipated 1 million Dalasi award for best teacher.
The award, dubbed National Teacher Prize, is slated for 1st January 2018 at the Kairaba Beach Hotel. President Barrow made this pronouncement at his office in Fajara on Monday, during a courtesy meeting with officials of the Gambia Teaching Trust.
The Coordinator of the Trust, Ebrima Sonko, said the Gambia Teaching Trust is a charitable organization founded in 2015 by Alasan Gent Ceesay, a Gambian based in United Kingdom.
He said it is aimed at supporting, recognizing and appreciating the efforts of teachers and the teaching profession in The Gambia. He added that GTT intends to support teachers in numerous ways, one of which includes an Annual Event in which the most outstanding teacher shall be awarded a cash prize of One Million Dalasi.
He reiterated that the event is important as it shall be the first of its kind in the sub region and the maiden edition he added, is expected to be held early in January 2018.
Mr. Sonko emphasized that the award winner will represent the Gambia in Dubai for the Global Teacher Prize award by the Varkey Foundation, where the person may also stand the chance of winning a cash prize of One Million US Dollars. “The GTT is further setting up a Trust Fund by embarking on a fund raising, the proceeds of which will be deposited to entirely support teachers who need emergency assistance,” he said.
Regarding the selection process of the most outstanding teacher, Mr. Sonko said the process will be done by an eleven-man committee which will include seasoned and veteran educationists who will work on various applications.
He said out of the applications, ten (10) outstanding teachers would be considered as finalist and one of them will walk home as National Teacher and Winner of a cash prize of 1 Million Dalasis.
Mr. Sonko informed the president, that the GTT is committed to the fulfillment and realization of its objectives and as such, members recently embarked on a nationwide tour, to get to schools and put the message across to the teachers.
The Secretary General of the GTT, Essa Njie, shed light on the aims and objectives of the trust initiative by emphasizing that the invaluable efforts of teachers in changing the lives of many in society, deserves to be recognized, appreciated, supported and rewarded.
“The GTT exists to complement government’s efforts in advancing the education sector of the country and appreciate the work teachers are doing in the country,” he said.
Ms. Fatou Jallow, member of the Media Committee GTT extended an official invitation to President Barrow for his presence at the main event in his capacity as Chief Patron, to formally present the award to the National teacher of the year.
Mr. Saikou Suwareh Jabai, member of the GTTI buttressed on the expectations from government and this is to endorse the initiative and pledge support for the award day and subsequent ones for the sustenance of the whole initiative.
President Barrow deliberated on the importance of teachers in society, the learning process and the fact that his government is committed to transforming the education sector for the greater good, despite the country’s economic situation. “For one to succeed in whatever one does, one must have to be committed,” said Barrow.
The President added that the teaching profession is a noble one because all educated individuals must have passed through a teacher. He made reference to his former teacher at Crab Island Upper Basic School. He commended the team for their commitment, indicating that he is pleased to see young people making their mark in society.
While pledging his government’s full support towards the initiative, he said the organization’s request for him to serve as chief patron during the award ceremony of the National Teacher Prize, is approved.