By Nelson Manneh and Yankuba Jallow
The Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education has given striking teachers twenty-four hours ultimatum to return to teaching duties or face disciplinary action accordingly and immediately.
A press statement read on national media (GRTS) indicates that the striking teachers are just a few individuals who do not in any way represent the teaching fraternity and do not have the backing of the Gambia Teachers Union, the umbrella body where all grievances should be reported for action. The release indicates that the Ministry is aware of the situation and engaged this group of teachers with the GTU and other Government institutions to address the issue.
However, well before the press release from the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, this medium on Wednesday 7th February 2018, sent reporters who spoke to some Principals in Region Two who confirmed that a few teachers are embarking on the strike in their schools. According to the principals, education is everyone’s business and that the authorities should consider the teachers as they are the primary architects of the country because they teach students onto whom the destiny of the country lies. These Principals and some of the teachers who spoke to this medium, said they are on strike in order to call on Government to improve their welfare. They said they are not boycotting their profession but want their conditions to improve. Region Two, the biggest region in the Gambia’s education sector, is divided into two. One half is in the Kombos whilst the other half is in Foni.
According to some of the teachers, they were not aware of the ongoing strike and that is why they decided not to take part. A principal in one of the Upper Basic Schools in the region said on Monday when she came to school, she met some teachers discussing this; that she then decided to call a staff meeting where all the teachers present sat and discuss the issue. “I told them that I am not going to take part in the strike because I am not aware of it and there is no signal from the Gambia Teachers Union (GTU) to alert us on a sit-down Strike,” she said; that since Monday, her teachers’ turnout was good but that there were still a few who are not going to school. She said what the teachers are advocating for is true but that every right goes with responsibility.
These reporters have observed that the schools in Kombo in Region Two have not been affected because almost all the schools visited, teachers were met in their classes teaching. One teacher in one of the Senior Secondary schools in Region Two said the sit-down strike will not help them achieve their goals; that if all the teachers collaborate and decide not to teach, Government will look at their demands and improve their welfare.