The Gambia Teachers' Union (GTU) Wednesday commemorated its 76th Anniversary. The theme for this year's anniversary was "Enhanced Synergy: An Inevitable Necessity for Our Unity".
The event was held at the Paradise Suites Hotel in Kololi.
The guest speaker at the occasion, Baboucarr Bouy, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, described unity within a union as an absolute necessity, adding that any attempt to bring disunity within a union tantamount to undermining the very purpose for which it is conceived.
He said the essence of a union is to unite and rally around a common vision. He told the gathering that the cordial relationship between the GTU and his Ministry must not and should not be taken for granted, neither should it be undervalued for whatever reason.
He continued: "For we need to only step next door to see a relationship between similar entities that can be considered far from cordial; a relationship which is characterised by mistrust and embodied by far-fetched demands from either party most of the time. The resultant effect of such a strained relationship is no secret to anyone of us here today. Ultimately, students and parents bear the brunt of it and end up paying a heavy price."
Bouy said such a relationship in The Gambia is not only a source of pride to all but also one that is mutually beneficial to both parties, adding that the effect is felt by the entire Gambian community.
"I have no doubt that the founding fathers and I dare say, the founding mothers too, of this institution (GTU) would be proud of you if they realise that their struggles have not gone in vain. This, in my view, is amply demonstrated by the height to which your responsible leadership and foresight have taken the profile and image of the GTU in The Gambia and abroad," he remarked.
The Basic and Secondary Education PS said the theme for this year's commemoration was quite appropriate for an institution that was celebrating 76 years of existence; an institution that has stood the test of time and an institution that continues to thrive and reasonably continues to meet the demands and expectations of its members in a sub-region where the purpose and functions of similar organisations are being questioned for a variety of reasons.
"Today, I have decided to address you from this podium not as permanent secretary but as a member of the union; not as your employer but as one of you working for the welfare of teachers; and not as a provider but as a recipient of the services we provide collectively," he further remarked.
He informed the gathering that by recognising and accepting the fact embedded in the theme, they can only be certain of success and not failure, stronger but not weaker, guaranteed security and not think or wonder about insecurity, and can only live in dignity and not fearful of destination at any point in their lives as teachers.
He added: "The energy we have gathered as a union in the past 76 years has not only become an inevitable necessity for our unity, but has also become the source of our success and pride today, the beacon of our hopes tomorrow and the certainty of our survival as a union in unity and unison in the future. Let us therefore preserve the mission that established us decades ago, the common interest that we have today and the wisdom that will sustain us in the future."
PS Bouy finally thanked the GTU leadership, past and present, for continuing to have faith and confidence in him.
The GTU is a national union of teachers and (other) education workers. Lamin K. Marong is the current president of the union. It is so far the only representative of Education International (EI) in The Gambia. The GTU was founded on the 9th February, 1937 and was established, among other reasons; to provide means whereby the collective views, opinion and decision of members affecting the interest of education in general and those of the teaching profession in particular can be expressed; to establish, promote and maintain a high standard of professional qualification, loyalty to established principles and unswerving devotion to the proper education of children.
In spite of the many hurdles GTU had to surmount over the years, services rendered by the union to members include but are not limited to; the establishment of the Women's Wing and the Cooperative Credit Union, instituting economic, professional and social services, unification of the majority of teachers, construction of the GTUCCU offices, and upgrading of teachers to attain qualified status, among others.
Notwithstanding the above giant strides, the challenges continue to pose a threat to even greater achievements. Among the challenges are, strengthening the regional GTU structures, properly coordinating the recruitment process, adequate funding for GTU programmes, effective monitoring of regional operations, membership education/recruitment, and changing composition of the local representatives and its implication for the union policies and programmes.