Close to 100 students or even more from the Bakoteh Upper Basic and Senior Secondary School, who converged at the Region One Education Office at Kanifing around 10: 30 am on Friday, 9 February, 2018, heeded to advice given by Hon. Ousman Sillah, the National Assembly Member for Banjul North, for them to disperse after making their demands known to the officials.
The students who were holding papers with inscriptions “We need our teachers back”, among others, were demanding urgent action from the education authorities to address the ongoing ‘sit down strike’ by some teachers in the public schools concerning salary increment and their general welfare.
Ousman Sillah, member of Parliament for Banjul North said, “I am here for a different purpose. I am not a Member of the Education Select Committee at the Assembly but as a National Assembly Member, your presence here is a matter of concern for me,” he told the attentive students, amidst their clapping.
“I want to commend you for coming here in this peaceful manner to request for a solution to the problem of lack of teachers that you are currently experiencing. It is true that any school day you missed, the lessons are going to affect your education and academic performance in future. But you have also heard from these officials that the problem has now been solved by the representatives of your teachers and the Teachers’ Union which I also heard in the news. Now that you have made your point known, please go back peacefully to your school as you came here”.
When one of the students asked his colleagues “do you agree with what he said that we go back to the school?” they all responded in the positive. He again asked “But if the teachers do not come to classes on Monday (12 February) then what do we do?” “We will come back,” responded the students.
At this stage, Hon. Sillah told them that whatever happens on Monday, let them all stay in the school as he will be coming there. The students then said that they will be expecting him as well.
Speaking earlier, Mr. Janko Kijera, the most senior among the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) officials at hand to receive the students, informed them that the Permanent Secretary and the other members of the senior management were all at Basse in the Upper River Region (URR) attending a CCM meeting. He assured the students that the teachers will be coming to their classes on Monday following an agreement they have reached with the Gambia Teachers Union (GTU).
The students eventually left the premises of the regional education directorate behind GTTI at Kanifing in a very calm and cheerful mood.
A very senior police officer in uniform, who was apparently following the students, was conspicuously present all throughout.