By Alagie Manneh
The Gambia government has appealed for patience in the ongoing nationwide teachers strike as it works to settle all outstanding payments owed to them.
The Gambia Teachers Union (GTU) released a communiqué yesterday calling on teachers in all public schools to “put down their tools until advised otherwise”.
The union said it is taking the decision after it found out that some teachers in regions one, two and three have still not been paid for the extra classes they held during the peak Covid-19 period.
A letter signed by Marie Antoinette Corr, the general secretary of the GTU, said the pressure group was “counting on the teachers cooperation and support” in the matter. Most public schools have since remained closed.
Speaking to The Standard on the issue, the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Basic Education, Louis Moses Mendy, said at least 90 percent of what was owed has been paid. “The issue regarding payment for the remaining 10 percent came at a time when there were some administrative issues which coincided with the government’s closure of books. So, it couldn’t be paid during that time. And now the teachers, through their union, are saying everyone has to be paid [fully]. They gave us an ultimatum, failure of which they will advise their members otherwise,” the PS explained.
He said although the government through the finance ministry has since provided the funds for payment, there is a process that must be followed.
PS Mendy said he expects all the work to be ready and payments processed by Thursday.
“Although it is painful, I am asking for patience to allow the process to take place for everybody to be paid and be happy and schools re-opened. It’s only GTU that can solve this problem by asking its members to resume work,” he pleaded.
He said government cannot be expected to violate rules “just in the interest of pressure groups”.
“…They have not been agitating about the teaching and learning materials [in schools]. These are personal monies that are related to them as individuals and perhaps that’s why they are agitating and putting their tools down,” he said.