The Gambia Teachers Union (GTU) has called on the government to prioritize the education sector’s needs amid post-Covid 19 recovery process. GTU made the call as teachers in the Gambia commemorated World Teachers Day on Tuesday.
The day set aside is an important event for teachers in the education sector to commemorate successes and identify gaps hindering the development of quality teaching and learning.
However, this year’s commemoration under the theme, ‘Teachers in the Heart of Education Recovery’ came at the face of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, which to a greater extend, affects teaching and learning, leaving others jobless.
“A successful education recovery process calls for investment in more teachers and training and professional development opportunities, so that educators may enrich their practice and gain the skills to integrate and use educational technologies effectively to support learning and adapt to a diversity of learners needs,” said Antoinette Corr Secretary GTU on the commemoration of WTD Day.
According to Antoinette, many education systems have still faced significant disruptions for nearly two years since the outbreak of the Covid-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has shone a light on the irreplaceable value of the teaching profession in the society but also on the difficult working conditions facing many teachers.”
She said now is the time for rapid transformation to address the unfulfilled needs multiplied by the pandemic. “Recovery efforts are key in accelerating progress towards inclusive, equitable, and quality education for every learner in every circumstance.”
Ousman Seckan, a Teacher at Sheikh Mass Kah Senior Secondary and Greater Banjul Upper Basic School, wrote on the WTD, as he argues that teachers in the Gambia cherish their work. However, he maintains that until the welfare of teachers takes center stage in the development of the country, teachers will continue to quit for better jobs.
“Unarguably, compare to teachers in the sub-region, the salary of provincial retention, the house rent, hardship allowances for Gambian teachers are modicum that they resort to overdraft and loans on a regular basis.”
He stressed that the education sector needs an overhaul to ensure that teachers are well motivated to deliver as education takes center stage in developing a nation.
“The Gambia Teachers’ Union must be proactive in ensuring that every Gambian teacher lives a dignified life as well as roll-out short-term capacity building programs, like sister unions, to reinforce teacher. The union must often communicate the plight of teachers to the employers.”
The Education for All (EFA) Fast Track Initiative (FTI) benchmark requires State parties like The Gambia to allocate 20% of their national budget to the education sector.
Although the Gambia has been credited to have made some significant gains in enrollment in the basic cycles, according to President Barrow, during the state of the nation address 2021, enrollment has improved by 5.2% at Lower Basic School level, 2.4% at Upper Basic level and 1.6 at Senior Secondary School. He said his government had built 836 rooms for teachers’ accommodation, and there are plans to increase the number.
“Hopefully, the number will increase to 1000, to 2000 by the end of December 2021,” he said. But critics argue that the quality of education doesn’t meet with current realities.
“There’s no doubt that the poor quality and the curriculum that has been taught have also added to the employability of Gambians. Almost in all the little active sectors like construction or tourism, there’s ‘unhealthy’ domination of non-Gambians, and likely, it is because Gambians don’t measure education in terms of training,” said BB Darboe, leader of the Gambia For All Party last year.