The theme of the celebration, held at the Paradise Suites Hotel, was: “Mobilizing for A Road Map 2030 For Teachers”, and the sub-theme: “Early Childhood Education, the Foundation for Inclusive and Sustainable Society”.
Ismaila S. Ceesay, vice president Gambia Teachers Union (GTU), in his opening statement said the day was to pay homage to all teachers for their pivotal role in shaping children’s lives and for their critical contribution to the social, economic and intellectual development of nations.
Mr Ceesay added that teachers are change agents, providing the impetus for the emergence of educated communities.
Many teachers work in extremely challenging circumstances, serving in communities with high rates of poverty, and coping with violence within and outside the classroom, he said.
He commended teachers, especially Early Childhood Educators, who accept to serve with little or no recognition, receive minimum or no training, the lowest pay and benefits with no career prospects, and have low socio-economic status overall, and bringing them the prospect of a better life through education.
“As a catalyst for human growth and development, education is key to the achievement of all the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and UN Post 2015 targets,” he stated.
However, he added, without sufficient numbers of well-trained and professionally motivated teachers, they risk failing in their anticipated gains for 2030 as recently agreed just a week ago in the US and at the World Education Forum.
“The quality of teacher training is equally important. Teachers who are well-trained and adequately remunerated are better equipped to provide a decent education and be active promoters of the values of citizenship, peace and intercultural dialogue,” he said.
Omar Ndure, guest speaker on the occasion, in his statement highlighted the importance of Early Childhood Education, saying it also has numerous benefits and advantages.
Marie-Antoinette Corr-Jack, General Secretary of GTU, in her fraternity message, said reaching out to children at their early age is critical, adding that quality education could also bring about positive change in children’s lives.
Teachers should be empowered to teach through challenging conditions and areas, she added.
Ebrima Sissawo, who deputised for the permanent secretary at the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education, said they intended to improve the incentives for teachers.
Dr Cherno Omar Barry, permanent secretary at the Ministry of Higher Education, Research, Science and Technology, said research had shown that teachers are undervalued and un-respected in some parts of the world.
Dr Barry said they are committed to continue to support teacher training.
Speakers on the occasion included Saikou Gassama, who represented the Director of ActionAid International The Gambia, and Haruna Cham, who represented UNESCO/NATCOM Secretary General.
Baboucarr O. Joof, General Manager of Gambia Teachers Union Cooperative Credit Union, chaired the ceremony.