By Momodou B. Dem
The Gambia has joined the rest of the world in commemorating World Teachers’ Day 2021.
In a statement marking the day, the General Secretary of the Gambia Teachers’ Union, Marie Antoinnette Corr highlighted the significant role teachers played in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Teachers have been on the frontlines to ensure learning continuity when schools were closed and to provide socio-emotional support to their students, especially the most vulnerable ones,” she said.
General Secretary Corr celebrated the dedication and courage of teachers as well as their capacity to adapt and innovate under challenging conditions.
“Now is the time to recognize the exceptional role teachers play and to empower them with the training, professional development, support, and the working conditions they need to deploy their talent,” she added.
Corr stated that a successful education recovery calls for investment in more teachers and in training and professional development. She therefore called on the Government of The Gambia to invest in teachers, prioritize them in education recovery efforts.
As part of celebration, the Gambia Teachers’ Union empowered its regional structures to observe the day. In regions 2, 3, 5 and 6 regional authorities organized symposia to recognize the significance of the day.
Participants in region two during a march-past displayed placards bearing messages such as: “expedite the establishment of a Teaching Service Commission”, “Revamp the teachers’ pay scale for improved productivity and better learner outcome”, and “Review the SIG Unit cost upward.” These messages were directed to authorities in the administration of the education sector of the country.
The Minister of Basic and Secondary Education, Claudiana A. Cole in a statement said her ministry is committed to providing teachers with professional training, continuous capacity development and conducive working environment. She called on the public to applaud teachers for their relentless services.
“Thank you and bravo to my hardworking and gallant teachers; you are indeed heroes and heroines,” she observed.
Teachers and teacher associations have also added their voices to the celebration of the day.
Alhagie B. Sama, a teacher at Kaur Senior Secondary School recognized what he called “the selfless service, dedication, determination and enthusiasm,” of teachers; and called on the government to improve the working conditions of teachers.
“Improve the working conditions of teachers and ensure that teaching becomes a lucrative job. Increase our Retention Allowance, provide Risk Allowance for us and increase our Double Shift to 100%,” he said in a Facebook post.
The Education Students’ Association of the University of The Gambia while commending the exceptional dedication of her membership and teachers across the country, reminded government and stakeholders of the dire need to include the UTG in their development agendas and recognize the School of Education as an integral component in the quest for a better education sector.
“Empowering the School of Education with adequate and qualified human and material resources will strengthen the professional development of these students as the first step of attaining quality and relevant education for our country,” The association President said.
The association further called on the Gambia Teachers’ Union to be more proactive in delivering beneficial services including advocating for decent pay and working conditions for teachers.
As the world observes World Teachers’ Day on the theme “Teachers at The Heart of Education Recovery”, many Gambian teachers continue to call on the government to improve their working condition, including timely payment of allowances and increment of salary and other allowances. They have long argued that services provided by the government and their teacher union are below minimal.
The United Nations Education Scientific and Cultural Organization-UNESCO in recognizing the rights and responsibilities of teachers and appreciating, accessing and improving the educators of the world, set October 5 aside, annually.