Over the weekend, an announcement came from the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education stating that the crisis of the strike which was spearheaded by the Coalition of Change Teacher Taskforce has been resolved amicably. The ministry promised from henceforth endeavor to pay salaries on time and also pay the double shift allowances of teachers. On the issue of salary increment, they promised to look into it.
This is a win for not only the striking teachers, but also for our democracy. It could be recalled that the ministry initially reacted by threatening to take punitive measures against any teacher who fails to report to school without ‘genuine reason’.
The Gambia Teachers’ Union serving as inter-mediators were able to arrange a meeting between the protesting teachers and officials from the ministry.
This has been – or should be – an eye opener for all and sundry. It tells disgruntled folks (of whichever walk of life) that their voices can be heard and that they just have to be organized and have one voice. It also tells the government and its officials that the time to use threats to impose their will on the population – or a segment of it – is over. From henceforth, dialogue is the operative word. The Wolofs say ‘Reeroo amut ñakkaa wahtaan moo am’. Roughly this means ‘there is no misunderstanding but the lack of dialogue’.
Every worker in a country works in order to contribute to the progress of society. It is about the common good that teachers, officers, security operatives, doctors, nurses and all other workers get up early morning to go to work. They all have one aim: the development of the nation.
Governments should thus learn to appreciate this and work to ensure that the pay and working conditions of the people are improved. And if there is any complaint, the best way to settle it is through dialogue and not threats. This gives hope to everyone that our democracy might be slow but it is moving.