27 February 2013

Gambia: St. Augustine's Students Protest

The students at the St. Augustine's High School in Banjul yesterday 26th February staged a demonstration against the School's Vice Principal which lasted for almost an hour. The Students during the riot were engaging in stone throwing all round the school which led to the destruction of the Vehicle of the vice principal as well as some classroom windows including the chemistry lab. They said that they are not holding a strike against anybody but the VP due to the way he handles their affairs.

The students who spoke to this reporter said the purpose of their strike was that the Vice Principal of the school Mr. Father Manneh was treating them very badly. Some of the things they mentioned are denial to sit to the mock Exams which are currently going on at the School. They said the VP said if any student is not regular in school, he/she would not sit to the Exams in the name of the School. The demonstrators also claimed that the VP since his arrival has made learning difficult for them. They alleged that the VP has the habit of seizing their shoes, mobile phones and would sometimes deny them permission to say their prayers at the King Fahad mosque which is nearby the school which is their praying ground well before he came as the VP. They alleged that Father Manneh is not polite when dealing with students.

However shortly after the riot efforts made to talk to the principal and the VP of the school did not materialise as they had moved towards the NIA headquarters. During the riot while the principal of the school Mr. Martin Gomez was seen persuading students, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, the Inspector General of Police, PIU officer, and the Principals of the nearby School converged to calm the students.

The students chanted the slogan: "We don't need Father Manneh in our School!" The PS, Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, Mr. Babucarr Boye and the Inspector General of Police both came to the scene of the demonstration and told them that the matter would be properly dealt with. Shortly after the departure of the large crowd of the demonstrating students, the Principal Mr. Martin Gomez and the Vice Principal Father Manneh were both said to be invited to the National Intelligence Agency.

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