By Olimatou Coker
Essa Sowe, the deputy general secretary of Gambia Teachers’ Union, has said now that all the necessary tools are available in terms of strategies and plans to protect people from Covid-19, government must now show commitment in ensuring that schools are safely opened and soon.
DGS Sowe made these remarks on Saturday during a press conference at the GTU Secretariat in Kanifing, in observance of world teachers’ day celebrated on 5 October every year.
The theme this year is “teachers leading in crisis, remaining the future”.
“Given that over 50% of our schools are private owned and apparently running out of business, government must create an education subsidy to enable the private schools pay their teachers most of whom have been seriously affected.”
The Teachers’ Union, he added, is deeply disturbed with the government’s failure to show any sign of seriousness to provide funding for education.
He also pointed out that in terms of “leading in crisis” on March 18, soon after the proclamation for the closure of schools, they have participated in the development of the conceptual framework of the emergency response strategy. And “ultimately, the framework to the GPF accelerated fund was developed and the country was subsequently awarded $3.5M, But up to now, there is not a specific day put in place for the reopening of schools,” he lamented.
Marie Antoinette Corr Jack, general secretary, GTU, called on government to prioritise education in its support mechanisms during these trying moments, adding that “teachers deserve more than just our gratitude; they deserve our full support.”
She said government should not let teachers and students pay the cost of the crisis. “We must protect our education system from current financial pressures and budgetary constraints. Let us recognise that it is to invest in teachers in our efforts to build strong economies, cohesive societies and a future of dignity and opportunity for all. I hope this statement will inspire our leaders to redouble their efforts in improving lot of teachers in The Gambia,” she said.