By Momodou Jarju
Students of the oldest learning tertiary institution in the country have resolved to stage a demonstration to express their dissatisfaction if their lecturers continue with the sit-down strike which started last Friday.
Since the opening of the new semester two weeks ago, the students are yet to have lessons with their lecturers who demanded that their April 2019 salaries are paid, that lecturers receive an assurance in writing that subsequent salaries will be paid on time, and that 50% salary increment be effected and paid as of January 2019.
However, it has been confirmed that they have received their April salaries on Friday but the lecturers are adamant on two other demands to be met before they resume lecturing.
Students informed Foroyaa that if the strike doesn’t end today, Tuesday, they would organize a peaceful demonstration tomorrow, Wednesday 15, 2019.
The Education Minister of the Gambia College Students’ Union, Bakary Badjie, said the peaceful demonstration to demand for lecturers to start, would also demand the answers to other issues that students are grappling with at the college.
“The aim of the peaceful demonstration is we want lectures and a permanent solution to all the problems that students of the Gambia College are facing,” Badjie said.
The president of the college press club, Bubacarr Jammeh, said the union, students’ teacher’s association and some students met to discuss the matter at the Common Room, Brikama Campus, and hinted to start the demonstration from Denton Bridge to State House.
Jammeh said the team will have a final meeting today to finalize everything needed for their activity.
The chairman of the Gambia College Governing Council convened an emergency meeting yesterday to discuss the matter with the administration and concerned lecturers.
Andrew Gomez, the chairperson of the college’s academic staff association (GCASA), said the meeting has produced positive results on the late payment of salaries, which he believes if the alternative is adhered to, all would go well.
Gomez, also a mathematics lecturer, didn’t detail the alternative suggested but directed our reporter to communicate with the principal of the college to give those details. The principal could not be reached before the paper went onto press. Gomez said the only thing they have not reached an agreement on with the council was the 50% pay rise.
“Actually, the council did inform me of the unavailability of the money at the Gambia College which therein will hamper the 50% salary increment,” he explained.
He said the governing council promised to meet them today at the college campus at 10 o’clock to further discuss the 50% increment to resolve the problem, adding that their return to classes to lecture would depend on the success of today’s meeting.
“But in the event that the staff are not convinced, I don’t think it would end soon. But I am very much hopefully that when they (council) meet the staff tomorrow, there would a change in the decision,” he said.
Meanwhile, this is the second time the lecturers are embarking on a sit-down strike in just seven months. The first strike was held in September 2018 on the same theme.
Gomez said the late payment of salaries has always been a tradition at their institute, something the registrar of the college Demba Yabo said dated since the year 2000.