The Gambia government yesterday announced that it has reached an agreement with the protesting teachers to end their strike in a deal that will effectively resolve the matter in the interest of the country and the school children. A statement from government spokesman Ebrima Sankareh went on to explain the exact details of what has been reached.
“Following weeks of simmering tensions and threats of imminent strike by a group of disgruntled teachers from Government schools in solidarity with the Network of Mission School Teachers, The Government of The Gambia is pleased to announce that the feuding parties have amicably resolved their problems and that all teachers are expected to report to work immediately.
It can be recalled that in the past week alone, the dissatisfied teachers had met the vice president, Mr. Ousainu Darboe as well as the Ombudsman and lodged complaints over conditions of pay, delayed allowances for double-shift teachers, provincial allowances for teacher trainees and lack of teacher identification cards among other concerns. Following intense yet respectful negotiations lasting several hours Monday, the Teachers’ Task Force (TFC) unconditionally ended their sit-down strike and suspended all efforts to strike agreeing to resume work on Wednesday 3rd October 2018.
Like all responsible governments, The Gambia Government negotiated with representatives of the TFC to salvage what could have potentially caused a massive disruption to our national education system.
On the issue of salary increment for teachers, TFC representatives were told that government cannot increase salaries on a piecemeal basis. Instead, it can only be done as a wholesome civil service measure reflecting the general welfare of all Gambian workers.
On the demand for increment of Double-Shift allowances, Government clarified that, double-shift was supposed to be a voluntary task for teachers even though some school heads take it to be obligatory sometimes causing rifts among teachers and principals. The parties thus agreed that it will be suggested to MOBSE to consider increasing double-shift allowances to between 60-70% in the next budget.
On the issuing of ‘Teacher identity cards’, TFC representatives were assured that in fact, that has since been rolled out and MBOSE urged to expedite the process for all teachers to be issued with identity cards.
On the most contentious issue of ‘delayed payment of teacher allowances’, the TFC were assured that MBOSE takes this seriously and will ensure that it never recurs again.
As part of their negotiations, members of the TFC were also told that henceforth, it was a matter of the ministry’s policy that all Teacher Trainees (TTs) were not to be posted to perceived ‘hardship zones’ until after graduation.
This peaceful resolution to an otherwise potentially ominous situation, is yet again, a testimony to this government’s openness and commitment to confront issues and reach consensus.”
Meanwhile the spokesman for the striking teachers Alhassan Ceesay has confirmed that an agreement has been reached between them and the government.
“Looking at the situation, we all agree to come to a point that we are going back to class and allow the government to take the demands as they promised to channel them and consider them in the subsequent budget,” he said.
“The SIS has done a great job because they intervened at a time when it is very necessity. We were welcomed nicely and had productive discussion with them as a family in order to come out with solution in ending the week long strike.”
With the discussion they have with the SIS boss, Ceesay said he is optimistic that some of their demands will be put into consideration. “We did not intend to go on strike and we did not want to be embarking on sit-down strikes every time. We want the government to look into the matter of teachers,” he emphasized.