By Louise Jobe
Teachers who are part of the newly formed pressure group ‘Teachers for Change’ (TFC), have stayed away from work since Schools reopened on the 17th of September 2018. Uniting with their counterparts in Mission Schools and going by the name ‘Network of Mission Teachers’ (NMT), the teachers said they are engaged on an indefinite sit down strike, effective Monday 24th September 2018.
Dominic Gomez, a senior teacher with the Catholic Mission, said the sit down strike is a reality; that the authorities need to handle it with urgency, as most Schools in the country are paralysed despite few teachers reporting, because there is no meaningful learning taking place.
He said the reality of the situation is that a good percentage of those teachers staying away from work, are in their youthful ages; that these people have seen their parents, uncles and aunties work their lives as teachers and cannot change their lives, not to talk of their families; that they are unlike other civil servants who can build mansions or drive cars within months.
He said Government needs to assess the attrition level of teachers to other sectors; that a good percentage of ‘run away teachers’, could be among the cream produced by the College or University; that one of their main reasons to leave could be to seek greener pastures; that the old cadre of teachers who can accept teaching as a noble job, are very few and that dialogue is the only way forward.
Lamin E. B Bah, the Head Teacher of Abuko Lower Basic School, said the task force for teachers for change advocates for members to understand that the Gambia Teachers Union (GTU), is the main umbrella body for all teachers in the country; that the GTU should not look at them like small boys, but should welcome them with honour and listen to their views; that the Ministry of Education should not have acted the way they did by deploying PIU officers to disperse them at their meeting. He said this could have been done through dialogue and negotiations.
Schools in Bwaim, Sangajor or St. Charles in Faji Kunda, have been affected by the strike. Many teachers in these Schools did not report. According to one of the teachers who was reached on telephone, said Senior teachers who reported to their Schools, are handling three to four classes.
This reporter tried in vain to contact GTU President.
Parents have expressed their disappointment with the new Government. One Haddy Gaye a parent, said Government does not care about them, because their children attend private Schools.