It is extremely distressing to read that some school principals are having such difficulty in filling vacancies at their schools for the coming academic year.
Almost on a daily basis, you read in newspapers or hear on the radio announcements of vacancies for the position of teachers in schools.
We believe there are a number of factors at play here.
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.
With regard to the first problem, our findings have shown that some of the incentives private schools offer to their teachers include fat allowances in respect of transport, housing and medical care.
Most of our teachers in public schools are leaving because of the fact that private schools have been able to offer more attractive pay packages than public schools.
When such a situation happens, some of the newly qualified teachers from Gambia College may not report to their new schools of posting, because of the low pay.
They would rather look for better pay, and end up in private schools, where the pay would be better.
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 paid less than those in private schools.
This situation must be addressed, and with all possible haste. 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”