By Olimatou Coker
The deputy general secretary of the Gambia Teachers’ Union, Essa Sowe, has claimed that 60 percent of the approved government budget on subvention to schools is yet to be disbursed, half-way through the fiscal year and end of the 2023 academic year.
Speaking at a press conference at the GTU office recently, Sowe added that the failure of the Ministry of Finance to release some budget lines earmarked in this year’s budget is paralysing the delivery of education across schools in the country.
These financial difficulties, according to him, are forcing some head teachers to take personal loans to run school programmes.
“This government is not taking education seriously and the National Assembly too is failing us,” the GTU deputy general secretary said.
Mr Sowe disclosed that out of the D D206,636,011.00 allocated for the School Improvement Grant (SIG) and books, some D73.3 million is pending. “So, this is a very big concern because the inputs and resources required to run our schools are not forthcoming. We did a thorough research and we have realised that according to the 2022 budget government is required to provide D10 million monthly for MoBSE to run the sector but only D4 million is what is being disbursed,” he said.
According to Sowe, MoBSE’s monthly administrative cash plan sent to the Ministry of Finance provided for D2.7 million allocation each month but Finance only gives D1 million leaving a funding gap of D1,720,329.33.
On the development budget which proposed D6.8 million allocations each month, Sowe claimed the Ministry of Finance only gives D3 million leaving a funding gap of D3,862,499.99.
According to him, MoBSE’s general cash allocation for each month under the current budget supposed to be D9,582,829.32, but instead Finance only gives D4 million with overall funding gap of D5,582,829.32.
“This is placing a lot of pressure on the Gambia Teachers’ Union Cooperative Credit Union as school head teachers and principals would have to rush to the union to request for an overdraft to do the needful. As a Union we have passed a lot of financial support to avoid our schools from collapsing. The Minister of Finance and the central government failed to fulfill its obligation. This is unbearable and the reason why we are here is to let everybody know, particularly the government, that it can never be business as usual and we cannot condone this”, Sowe warned.
According to him, these financial problems have unbearable implications on the sector and compromise the delivery of the curriculum, mock exams, maintenance of school facilities, payments of subject allowances, payment of ancillary staff and school excursions among others.
The Union threatened further actions if the government failed to settle these arrears before 19 July 2023.