By Buba Gagigo
The Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) Mr. Louis Moses Mendy has said that administrative observations led to the delay in the payment of teachers’ COVID-19 allowances.
“There was some data that was still remaining because of the adjustment that administrators decided to do in helping their students. So that data came late, and when it came, it was subjected to verification as we did in the past for them to be paid. The reason for verification is to ensure that people who taught between this period or on Saturdays are paid appropriately.
“For example, if [a] particular school only taught on Saturday for two weeks and another taught on Saturday for one month or two months, these teachers cannot be paid the same. So in January, we did the verification and processed the payment. Unfortunately when the payment got to the payment point, there were some administrative observations that they had and that challenged the payment for the month of January,” The PS said during a press conference on Thursday
PS Mendy added that MoBSE has already paid the first data they received from schools since last December
“The 17th of March 2020, schools were closed until the 14th of October and 18th of October when they were reopened. So that gap that the students lost which translated to 265 contact hours that was what warranted that catch-up plan. At the end of the year, we requested data from schools and regions to see who has taught from Monday to Saturday because of COVID. So that they could be paid as we promised them. The data we got, we processed it and teachers were paid by the December salary payment,” He said
The Permanent Secretary also explained how the COVID-19 allowances came.
“As a sector the policy requires that we have 46 students in a class. But when the COVID hit. The Ministry of Health and world organization brought in some protocols and regulations that we needed to observe because of COVID. And in that regard, schools were required to reduce the class size from either 46 in a standard class or some cases where you have larger numbers to reduce those in the 50s and more to 23. When that happens, it means a normal class of 46 students will now be divided into two.
“And any class that is 60 will be divided into 3. Therefore, you will need more teachers and classrooms. So when we did the model, initially when we limited our class size to 23. There were 29 schools that would have been affected. So we came up with different methods. We came up with double shifting, We came up with alternating. So we invited everybody including all the stakeholders and shared these. We said anybody who has to go to school from Monday to Saturday because of COVID, we will pay you for the Saturday class. When we rolled this out into [the] system, school administrators based on love for their students decided to see how they also do what we call a catch-up plan which we developed” he concluded.
MoBSE’s reaction on Thursday (today), followed the recent sit-down strike by the teachers in execution of the order by the Gambia Teachers’ Union based on the non-payment of the Covid-19 allowance to certain teachers in some regions.