By Saikou Suwareh Jabai
“Teachers for Change, a group of teachers who are dissatisfied with the manner the Gambia Teachers Union (GTU) pursue their interest have called for teachers to go on strike. On the other hand, the GTU have called on teachers to report to their Schools of postings when the academic year commences.
‘Teachers for Change’ (TFC), held a general meeting on the 8th of September 2018, at Abuko Upper Basic School Hall, where the association discussed the last resort in ensuring that demands laid before authorities early this year, have not been met.
Abdoulie Jallow, the Secretary General of TFC taskforce, highlighted the reason for the convergence. “I stand here to discuss why we are embarking on the September strike. Our strike is based on our resolutions. None of the agreements in that resolution have been resolved, not even the cheapest. So we have no reason to report to School, come September 17,” he said.
Jallow blamed the GTU for what he called ‘playing cheap propaganda’. “If GTU were genuine in their demands, they would not have made fresh demands, when they know that they were signatories to a resolution of which none of the agreements have yet been met,” he said.
He said teachers face a lot of avoidable challenges which is why many teachers are leaving the profession, to join other fields. He call on teachers to unite in demanding for their rights for themselves and those coming after them.
Alhassan Ceesay, the P.R.O. of the TFC taskforce discussed how the TFC is structured and how the structures help ensure the smooth running of the TFC, for their demands to be met.
“TFC has School representatives in this country and we are all connected and working towards a common cause. The taskforce will work in close collaboration with their representatives in Schools because they are key stakeholders to the progress of the upcoming sit-down strike,” he said.
“What we are demanding are needs and no one can leave without needs. A teacher cannot effectively teach if he has debts and financial problems that his/her salary cannot solve. Teachers need steady minds to effectively deliver in class,” he said.
Buba Gaye, the taskforce Regional Representative for Region Six (6), made it clear to the audience that TFC is non-political and non-violent.
“We are not advising anyone to demonstrate. All we are advising teachers to do, is to simply sit at home. Do not go to School, much more to sign the time book,” he noted.
The occasion ended with a question and answer session.
The development on the part of the GTU is very different.
Following their ultimatum given to Government by the GTU on Monday 3rd September 2018, regarding matters of concern to their leadership, the GTU’s national executive committee informs the public that the Director of Budget at the Ministry of Finance, has conveyed approval to the Accountant General for the increment of their residential and provincial allowances for teachers. The approval, as stated in a Press Release from the Union, has been granted to increase provincial allowance from 12.5% to 20% and from 15% to 23% respectively, beginning September 2018. The increment will be accompanied by arrears from July 2018.
In a similar development, the payment of School Improvement Grant (SIG) 2017/18 Third Term arrears for Lower and Upper Basic Schools totaling D10,272,676.00, has been approved by the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education and that it is currently being processed by Treasury for payment at the end of September 2018.
The Press Release further added that the 2018 graduates from the Gambia College, have been formally interviewed for appointments in the Civil Service on Thursday 6th September 2018, during which the GTU was adequately represented.
The GTU advised that no further industrial action will be required as at now and call on teachers to report to their Schools of postings when the academic year commences.