By Tabora Bojang
The Ministry of Basic and Secondary School Education has issued a strongly-worded statement expressing its dismay at the behaviour of the Catholic Education authorities, and effectively suspending its subvention to the body from April.
This followed a bitter row between the Catholic Education authorities and their teachers who accused them of deducting millions of dalasis from their teachers’ wages for other purposes without their consent.
On Monday, the teachers began a nation-wide sit down strike protesting at the behavior of their employers.
Matters reached flashpoint in the course of this week with a massive disruption of classes as teachers downed their tools in protest. Tens of thousands of pupils and students in mission schools across the country went without classes. That prompted the Ministry of Education to weigh into the matter with the following position:
“In light of the ongoing sit down strike involving teachers of Catholic Education Secretariat, the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education wishes to register its profound dismay and concern about the current situation.
We strongly condemn the decision by the Catholic Education Secretariat for systematically using the deductions from the salaries of the teachers for other purposes without their prior approval. The Ministry totally frown upon such behavior and under no circumstances can this action be justified.
It is important to note that the ministry subvents over hundred institutions and all subventions are paid at the same time. It is therefore interesting that out of all these institutions only the Catholic Education Secretariat, under the pretext of delay in payment of subvention would use the salaries of the teachers for other purposes.
In this regard the ministry wishes to inform the concerned teachers as well as the general public that it will do everything possible for the affected teachers to get their claims’ in the soonest possible time.
All are informed that this matter is currently being investigated and the facts surrounding the issue will be established in due course and those responsible for the mishap will face the consequences.
As part of measures to address the ongoing problem, the Ministry has taken a decision to suspend payment of subvention to the Catholic Education Secretariat effective 1st April 2020, until this issue is adequately addressed. Meanwhile, the March subvention will be processed by the Gambia Teachers Union Cooperative Credit Union (GTUCCU) and paid into the appropriate accounts.
While we assure the affected teachers of Ministry’s resolve to refund them adequately, we wish to appeal that they resume classes to avoid further loss in contract hours.”