Apr 20, 2009, 7:30 AM
It is extremely distressing to read that principals all over The Gambia are having such difficulty in filling vacancies at their schools for the coming academic year.
What is very clear from the advertisement we see in the newspapers these days, about schools looking for teachers to fill vacancies in their various schools, is that something must be done to address the problem, and very quickly.
There are a number of factors at play. Firstly, the old issue of pay has stubbornly refused to go away. The salaries on offer to teachers in public schools are simply not adequate to meet the rising cost of living. This means many are being attracted into the private sector.
Secondly, there is the issue of rural to urban migration. This is a more difficult issue to tackle, but not an impossible one. If teachers serve a fixed term in any given area and then wish to move, then they should be allowed.
Also, greater incentives must be given to teachers to serve in the rural areas. If this happens, then the problem of rural to urban migration might not be so much of a problem. If teachers wish to serve in the provinces near their place of birth they must be allowed, and encouraged to do so.
Findings have revealed that some of the incentives private schools offer for their teachers include fat allowances in respect of transport, housing and medical care and, in this regard, it is believed that private schools have been able to offer more attractive pay packages than public schools.
It is difficult to criticize anybody who would be tempted to take a deal such as this rather than a public school job, where many believe they will be left months without their basic pay aside at all from the lack of extra perks such as the ones mentioned above.
As schools are currently on summer holiday, we believe that this situation must be addressed and with all possible haste and urgency.
Our children are the future leaders of this nation, and we owe it to them to give them the best education we can through our public school system. Failure in this regard is not an option.
“Pennies do not come from heaven. They have to be earned here on earth”