#Article (Archive)

Urgent Action Needed on Teacher Shortage

Oct 28, 2008, 6:26 AM

Many of our readers will be justly concerned at the report carried in this newspaper today regarding a shortage of teachers in The Gambia. According to the report, lower basic schools throughout the country are facing serious teacher shortages since the commencement of the 2008/2009 school academic year.

We must find solutions to this grave situation quickly and to do this we must find the root causes of the problem.

Investigations have revealed that the office of the Regional Directorate in Kanifing is asking for certain qualifications from unqualified teachers, some have been in the field for even more than five years and those who did not have the specified qualifications received their marching orders.

We would all wish to see a situation whereby our schools would be staffed solely by fully qualified teachers but at the moment we cannot achieve this goal. Until such time as we can achieve it we must maintain unqualified teachers on the staff of some of our schools. Many of these teachers, although not qualified, have a wealth of very important experience which should be appreciated and never discounted. There is some good work being done with regard to training these teachers fully at The Gambia College. This is a much better approach then simply handing people their marching orders.

The GambiaCollege is also doing excellent work in training teachers who are themselves fresh from their secondary education. While we would wish to see this trend continue a trend we want to see come to an end is that of these people running away when they are qualified. This is such a common occurrence that we have a name for them. They are known as Run Away Teachers or RATS. The reasons for their refusal to teach are no doubt many but the combined issues of low pay and the failure of the government to pay on time are no doubt close to the top of many of their lists.

Many of our finest qualified teachers are also being lured into the private sector by the draw of better wages and wages which are paid on time.

If these issues are not addressed by the government then we will continue to experience teacher shortages in this nation. This situation is unacceptable as every day that goes by with it continuing means that more of our children are not receiving the education they deserve. Action must be taken immediately to address this dreadful crisis.