Sunday, February 5, 2023

Teachers Commence Industrial Action

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By Assan Bah / Nelson Manneh

Schools from Regions 1 and 6 have officially opened but learning remains as no teachers could be found in the Schools visited by these reporters in Banjul and the Kanifing Municipality. The reporters visited Schools to assess the situation of the strike that the teachers have embarked upon and found out that no teaching or learning was going on in the schools visited.

An anonymous staff member who was found at the Gambia Senior Secondary School said he/she was the only staff present as some of his/her colleagues came but left when had information about the strike.

“I came to work not knowing that there is an ongoing strike. Students came in the morning as well but they have left because there are no teachers to teach them,” the anonymous staff member said.

In St. Augustine, the class rooms were under lock and key and no student or teacher could be found in the school.

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When contacted, Jerreh Sanyang, the Deputy Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE), said the Ministry did not receive any official letter from the Union (GTU), regarding their demands.

“They wrote to the Public Service Commission and we were copied. GTU did not engage us prior to their sit-down strike and we expect them to address their demands to us directly,” he said.

DPS Sanyang said the Ministry has limited powers on the matter since the letter is not addressed to them directly; That if they were notified directly they would definitely address the matter with urgency.

These reporters also visited some schools within the Kanifing Municipality and found that the same situation prevailed as in Banjul. In some of the schools visited within Kanifing Municipality, no teacher was seen whilst in others, the teachers met were on their way home, after learning about the strike.

Lamin Dampha, a student who spoke to Foroyaa, said he went to school as usual but there were no teachers to give them lessons.

“In my class, only six of us were in the classroom. All the rest were absent. I was then informed by a friend that there is an ongoing sit-down strike. This second term is full of breaks and other activities. The government should engage the teachers and solve the matter amicably. Some of us are in Grade twelve and our final School Certificate Examination (WASSCE) is fast approaching. So any interuption in our lessons, will affect us,” he said.

If readers can recall, Gambia Teachers’ Union (GTU) issued a notice on January 3rd 2023, informing teachers and other education personnel across the country of a nationwide industrial strike.

The strike according to the Union is as a result of the ‘inconsistency’ in the payment of allowances to the education sector personnel since the introduction of the new pay scale, reflecting the 30% salary increment.

To this effect, the leadership of the teachers said thay sent nine demands to Government on 20th December 2022, and hoped that the demands will be thoroughly examined and reviewed to reflect the requirement of the General Orders in respect of such emoluments. However, they indicated that to their dismay and utmost surprise, Government neither responded nor acknowledged receipt of their demands, two weeks to date.

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