Friday, November 5, 2010

Gambia’s Education System Hanging on the Balance

As Teachers Turning into Criminals

Banjul, The Gambia (TNBES) The President of The Gambia Teachers Union (GTU), Mr. Lamin Kambai Marong has urged teachers to stop bypassing their line managers and writing directly to
the Permanent Secretary (PS) and the President of the Republic of The Gambia.

“Such letters are referred back to the relevant authorities for action and are normally sent back to the sender. Some of our members are fond of writing directly to the President with the intention of creating problems for our line managers and not to solve a problem,” he argued.

Marong pointed out that the President, Minister and Permanent Secretary are not happy about what he described as insubordination, ‘it is now viewed as a crime, he said  while noting that five dismissal letters will be issued to some teachers next week for gross insubordination and more are in the pipeline.

Marong was addressing his compatriots on Saturday at the 13th Annual General Meeting of the Gambia Teachers Union held at its Head Office in Kanifing.

He said that teachers were the standard or pace setters in society and for civil servants and teachers were very respectful to age, authority and to hierarchy of the
school system. “It was for these reasons that society had high regards for
teacher despite their low income statues,” he outlined.

He pointed out that if the trend is changing, they must ask for an explanation as the GTU is here to promote and enhance the welfare of its members, the teachers; as well
as providing the necessary technical advice to education sector personnel.

“We will not only give advice and support to our members if their rights are trampled upon or they are being abused but also fight for peace and justice for all including the children entrusted into our
hands. We will not support any members for any wrong doing and shall dissociate
ourselves from a member who has an allegation over his or her head to clear and
members who have been convicted as criminals shall have their membership status
withheld,” he stressed.

President Marong disclosed that this year, the report case against teachers includes, sexual assaults, rape of students entrusted into teachers hands, and teachers have
been convicted for theft, burglary, and drug trafficking.

He further said that teachers now use knives, machetes and other dangerous weapons against each other to settle scores. “As a Union, who do we
protect or support in such an unfortunate situation,” he asked rhetorically.

He also disclosed that other reported cases involving members are direct confrontation with the Permanent Secretary of the line and Regional Directors;
misappropriation of school and public funds, taking money and other personal
used from students and exam malpractices.

He also said that teachers are not only role models in society but also social engineers who mould the future leaders by setting
standard for themselves and society, practice what they believe in and preach
to their students.

On a more positive not, he said one of the main objectives of the new Education Policy is to improve on the quality delivery to children, the future leaders of our great
country ant to ensure that there is quality in teaching and learning in

Mr. Marong said the Ministry of Education will soon conduct a diagnostic assessment of the training needs of teachers in the Lower Basic Schools in a form of exam. The
objective of which is to rate their academic standing.

“On the issue of the Special and Graduate Allowances denied to our members in government subverted schools since January 2009, the Ministry has done everything humanly
possible to get these allowances included in our subvention but to no avail,”
he revealed.

He also said: “I am pleased to report to this august gathering that we have now gone beyond the level of the ministry. We have engaged the Secretary General and Head of the
Civil Service on the issue of these allowances. Our discussion with her was
very good and promising.”

He noted that line Ministries of Education and Finance will be invited to sit over the issue and the Head of State, President Jammeh has also been informed about their
plight, and are hoping to achieve a positive result.

On the subject allowance for English, Math and Science teachers at UBS and SSS level, he said that this is a local allowance for Schools to pay what their budgets can
sustain, adding that before any payment can be effected, Heads of Schools must
prepare a comprehensive budget for the fiscal year and get approval from either
Boards of Governors or the Regional Directors.

“This is the only way to avoid audit queries for the payment,” he said.

Marong also informed his colleagues that the much anticipated Retention Allowance for teachers in schools, the Ministry has been working very hard to capture each
teacher in the scheme and in the right category based on length of service.
“Teachers who are less than five years in the system will receive D500 per
month, teacher who served more than five years but less than ten years will
receive D750 per month and teachers who served more than ten years to receive
D1000 per month; while unqualified teachers will get D250 per month. Vol:2 Issn:164

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