6 February 2018

Gambia: Teachers On Sit Down Strike

Photo: Mujahid Safodien/IRIN
Children wash their hands at Tikhuba High School in Swaziland's eastern Lubombo District.

It has been brought to the notice of Foroyaa that teachers in many schools in the entire regions of the country have on Monday the 5th day of February 2018, commenced an indefinite sit down strike, until their demands are met.

This was confirmed to Foroyaa by the Secretary General of 'Teachers for Change' Mr. Abdoulie Jalllow, through a press release which stated that from Monday 5th February 2018, they will embark on a massive sit down strike and urged all teachers to refrain from violence and unlawful activities during the course of the strike.

The Education Director of Region One (Kanifing Municpality and Banjul City Council) also confirmed to Foroyaa that there is an ongoing strike and that they have sent some informers to go schools to observe situations and report to them.

"We ask them to collect the information of all the teachers on strike and we will later see what to do," he said.

For their part, the Gambia Teachers Union's officials refused to speak to Foroyaa.

Mr. Abdoulie Bah said the sit down strike will be indefinite until relevant and tangible steps are taken by authorities in fulfilling the demands of teachers.

Sources told Foroyaa that the demands of the teachers include increment in salary, full payment of double shift allowances, for teacher trainees to benefit from hardship allowances, to put an end to late payment of allowances and issuing identity cards to teachers like other government institutions.

Sometime last month, the teachers planned to embark on strike but were delayed due to discussions with the Gambia Teachers Union who promised to engage the relevant authorities on the issue. The teachers set up a task force under the leadership of Abubacarr Janko of Kulari Lower Basic School as the Chairman in Region 6, Musa Baldeh of Killy LBS Region 2, Abdoulie Jallow of Foday Kunda Upper Basic and Senior Secondary School as the Secretary and Lamin Fatty of Wellingara Basic Cycle School as the Public Relation Officer.

Within themselves, they chose Momodou Lamin Marong of Njawara UB and SSS, Alasana Beyai of Aja Fatou Bojang UB and SSS Region 3 and Essa Kanajie of Sare Alpha LBS in Region 5, as advisers.

According to the teachers, their demands are both genuine and professional and they have engaged the Union on several occasion for their demands to be met, but to no avail.

On Monday, Foroyaa made a tour of Schools in Region One (Banjul and KMC) as well as contacted Schools in the interior of the country.

This reporter visited some of the Schools within the Kanifing Municipality and found out that some teachers were present in some School but refused to teach while some decided not to enter the classroom. Others were seen in the classrooms teaching.

Some teachers who spoke to this reporter said they were on strike for their demands to be met by the authorities.

"Teachers have been suffering in this country for the past 22 years. We voted for change and among them is for our welfare to be considered. We 'mould' students who will be the future leaders of this great Nation. So there is no reason why the Government should neglect our welfare," they said.

Some of the teachers who were seen teaching in their various classrooms said they don't boycott their fellow teachers but the information did not reach them at the appropriate time.

In St-Therese's Upper Basic School, teachers were seen in class teaching. The Principal of the School said she was not aware of the sit-down strike; that despite the school being a Mission School, all the teachers are within one umbrella body that is the Gambia Teachers Union (GTU).

"I did not get any information from GTU that teachers should go on strike. Almost all my staff are around and learning is going on in the normal way, "she said.

At Region One Educational Directorate in Kanifing, it was observed that most of the senior officers left for their yearly Coordinating Committee Monitoring (CCM) in the URR.

Speaking to the Director of Region One, he said they are aware of the sit down strike of some teachers.

It was observed at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education complex in Banjul that almost all the senior officers were not on the ground.


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