4 February 2013

Gambia: Schools/Students Welcome Exclusion From New Working Days/Hours

Following the announcement on the public media emanating from the office of the Secretary General that the schools are now exempted from the new working days and time for public servants which is now in force as from the 1 February 2013, some school principals, teachers and students have welcomed the development stating that it is a move in the right direction.

According to the principal of a senior secondary school in Region One, he was very elated when he heard the news as it quickly made his confusion and frustration over the new school schedule to disappear. He questioned the pragmatism of the new school schedule which would have curtailed the teacher-student contact hours that are even deemed by some as insufficient. He said their headache was how to compensate the lost hours resulting from making Friday a non-school day. He said the exclusion of Fridays was really a problem for the schools especially those who are grappling with part-time teachers.

He thanked the executive for the reversal of the order.

Another principal also expressed similar concerns and said "I am thanking the authorities for not allowing the schools to even start this experiment for the schools which would have been counterproductive in any case."

She reiterated the fact that the change would have caused a lot of disruptions among the staff, administration, students and most especially in the syllabus because it was going to be very difficult for them to be able to cope with the situation.

She concluded by appealing to the authorities to engage in extensive consultations with all the stakeholders in the education sector before such major changes are implemented.

Mrs. Aisatou Bah, a teacher in one of the upper basic schools in the said region, said apart from the well known disruptions that this change of working days and time would have brought in the education process there is also the domestic downside of it. She explained that as a teacher she is also a housewife who attends to her husband, children and household chores such as the cooking, upkeep of the house etc. She explained that with the change in the working days and time, one of the equally important demands of two would have suffered i.e. either the home or the school.

"Had this continued, I would have been forced to settle with either one of the two unpleasant choices; to sacrifice my marriage and children or to resign from my work? Both choices are not good for me", said Mrs. Bah.

"I therefore thanked the authorities for saving both my job and marriage", she concluded.

Assan Sanneh, a student in grade twelve, said the news of the exemption of the schools came to him as a great relieve as he was really disturbed by exclusion of Friday as a school day. He explained that since he will be sitting for his grade twelve school leaving examinations this academic year, he has been utilizing the Saturday mornings and afternoons for extra private classes outside of the school. He said it have been disastrous for him and many other students in grade twelve if Friday were to continue as a non-school day as they have very little time now to cover the syllabus before their mock and final exams. "This would have impacted negatively on our exams. So thank God that the decision is reversed", he said.

A grade eleven student, Aminata Njai, also expressed her delight with the announcement of the exclusion of schools from the new working days and time. She echoed similar concerns as those expressed by the grade twelve student, regarding the losses in contact hours between teachers and students that would have resulted in the designation of Friday as a non-school day. She said everybody was confused and concerned including her parents.

"I believe both my mates and teachers are very happy, because of our exclusion", she concluded.

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