By Tabora Bojang
Yankuba Yabou, an activist and a resident of Brikama, has accused school authorities of discrimination for sending away his two children from school.
Yabou, who is also the secretary general of the Gambia College Buganala ECD Lower and Basic schools, has been at loggerheads with the school authorities over his insistence against the introduction of tuition fees, considering the school’s status as a public institution.
The school has been running under the auspices of the Gambia College management at its campus in Brikama.
“Free education is a constitutional right of the Gambian children in all public schools. It was for this reason that I wrote to the concerned authorities such as the Ombudsman, the National Assembly, and the Ministry of Education,” Yabou said.
He claimed his two children, aged 6 and 9, have been sitting home for two months since they were sent from school.
He alleged that his first encounter with the school authorities came last year when he protested against the payment of extra levies meant for the clearing of the school premises, which saw the kids send away from school for at least a month until the intervention of Child Protection Alliance, CPA.
“This year as well, they are sent home without any due communication. First I thought it was the school fees because it could not have been anything else since I believe they were not satisfied with the steps I have taken through several petitions against the introduction of exorbitant school levies despite being a public school. I went to the school to find out about the arrears I owe so that the kids may resume as I impatiently await the resolution of the policy authorities.
I was informed by the headmistress that it was not in fact about the school fees but because I am challenging the authorities and I ought to write an apology to the college authorities or else my children are not coming back to school. I told her I am not going to apologise because I have not committed any wrong.”
He also accused the College principal Abubacarr Jallow and his deputy Isatou Ndow of “running the school as a personal property.”
“For six years, they never included this school in their activity or financial report at the National Assembly nor does the community or the Governing Council know anything about the school. The school account is not synchronized with the college main account even though the staff are paid from the college main account. Funnily, Isatou Ndow is the sole signatory to the account. The affairs of the school and the money generated from school fees are only known to these two individuals. Each time I put across my view about the school as the secretary and a parent of two, instead of making clarifications by either calling a press conference or taking me to court, they will be throwing tantrums and insults. Finally, they have decided to send away my kids,” Yabou told The Standard.
Mrs. Ansata Jallow, the headmistress of the school when contacted about these allegations, declined to either confirm or deny the allegations, saying she is not the right authority to speak to journalists.
Madam Jallow however referred us to the College principal Abubacarr Jallow, who responded: “I don’t involve directly in the management of the school at that level but I know that he has been having problems paying school fees and If you don’t pay your school fees, you stay at home until you pay.”
Mr. Jallow also alleged that Yabou has on two occasions removed his children from the school only to turn back and plead with the authorities.
“He has failed to honor the payment of his children’s school fees and there is no way they can continue coming to school,” Jallow added.