Teachers Disappointed with Gov’t Handling of Covid-19 Education Support Fund
The Gambia Teachers Union (GTU) has expressed its uttermost disappointment over the bias handling of Covid-19 Education Support Funds to the disadvantage of private schools. The concerns of the union are born of the plight by many private schools that they’re are finding it extremely difficult to pay staff salaries and rent among other charges, ahead of the planned reopening of schools across the country, later this month.
Leaders of the umbrella body of teachers in the country expressed this frustration at a presser organized on Saturday 3rd October, 2020, at the Union’s Secretariat, where they also outline plan of activities gears towards celebrating this year’s World Teachers this Monday.
They called on The Gambian Government to show more commitment in investing in education sector if there is any hope for an education sector and the country as a whole.
The theme for this year’s anniversary is ‘Teachers Leading in Crisis; Reimagining the Future
“What is disturbing at this material moment is the fact that, there are no signs and no indication showing us anything of the government’s seriousness to handle the Covid-19 Funds so that when schools reopen, they could act as required,” Essa Sowe, Deputy Secretary General of the Gambia Teachers Union.
According to him, 56 percent of schools in the country are private schools that are currently engulfed in serious financial crisis. Essa Sowe explains that most of these private schools are finding it very difficult to survive during this period of the pandemic as no government support is seen to come.
“Of recent, we have 3009 schools across the country out of which 56% are private schools including Madrasas. We’ve also noticed that since the Covid-19 crisis, these schools are running out of business. As early as March, many of them could not pay the salaries of their teachers anymore. Teachers and staffs in these schools are finding it difficult to even settle their family house rent” Sowe explained.
“Most of these private schools are also renting in private compounds. The payment deadlines are either due or long overdue, while other private schools are threatened with eviction” according the teachers union’s deputy leader.
According to Essa Sowe, the Union has not been relenting since the outbreak of the pandemic in the country, revealing that the union forged partnerships with key stakeholders in preparations of guidelines and policies that will keep students and teachers safe when schools reopen.
The Deputy Secretary General of GTU has also explained that the continuity of learning will involve training of teachers on the use of technology base delivery of curriculum with special focus on vulnerable groups in catch-up learning process. According to Essa Sowe, up to date neither the ministry of Education nor the Gambia Government did put forward a penny to this end.
“To invest on teachers is a wise investment in our efforts to build strong economies and a cohesive society for a future of dignity and opportunity for all. The aim of every teacher is to ensure that every child is well motivated and well qualified to carry on his national duties,” said Marie Antoinette Corr Jack, General Secretary of GTU.
She disclosed that this year’s World Teachers Union Day will not be celebrated in the usual fanfare. A statement will be issued by the ministry and union leaders will visit all regions to meet principal education officers and discuss with them on policies, programs and the way forward.
Marie Antoinette Corr Jack called on all teachers, parents and students to continue abiding by the WHO regulations in the national quest to end the menace of the global pandemic in the country.