By: JANNEH S. DARBO
Last week we have talked about the quality teacher in the quest of quality education in the Gambia. In regard to the comments made in the article, many teachers and concerned stakeholders in education had applauded the efforts of the column in enlightening the masses on some of the shortcomings in the educational service delivery. This has encouraged us to continue discussions on the same topic mentioned. Some of the concerns highlighted are captured in some of the paragraphs below.
However, some people opined that the motivational strategies of the ministry are very discouraging leading to the shifting of some competent and most qualified personnel to other jobs more so teachers. Among some of the deficiencies are slow promotion of teachers and office staff, lack of adequate incentive, lack of respect for the dignity of teachers, acute shortage of teaching and learning materials in schools, safety and security of teachers among others.
Many positions in offices from headquarters to directorates and schools are not filled by substantial holders of those positions. Most people are acting and are not compensated for acting for years. Reports indicated that there are some class C schools that are being headed by deputy head C, senior master C holders occupied deputy head C position. In other regions ordinary qualified teachers are heading schools.
In offices similar trend continuous. Acting Education Officers, Senior Education Officers, Principal Education Officers, Senior Cluster Monitors, Cluster Monitors, acting directors, etc. so many schools don’t have even caretakers and school children or community in some schools do the work of the caretakers needless to talk about night watchmen. That’s why we are experiencing lot of theft cases in school in urban region.
Some assumed that in glory days of teaching, there used to be so many training on teachers capacity building on classroom management, teaching strategies, classroom control and set up, material productions, academic competitions like common entrance examination, end of year parties to mentioned few are now histories. Some mentioned a program for the lower basic teachers called E-learning which has started well but is now branded by some as book-learning or way of creating income for some.
Some people also attributed the low academic performance of our school going children to the overcrowding of pupils in public school around Greater Banjul Areas. As a result of this many teachers are unable to sure case their professionalisms as expected and had derailed the purpose of access to an interrupted basic education for all. The teacher-pupils’ ratio is above the targeted MOBSE ratio. However, some viewed that if that is the case in urban Gambia, then how about the academic performance of rural Gambian whose performance is below the urban settlement and have a very small population?
There is lot of researchers to be conducted to bridge such problem. It is not a matter of seeking grants and loans for the improvement of quality education but a matter of strategizing the approaches domestically instead of borrowing foreign pedagogies to cap the situation.
In the process of harnessing quality teachers and teaching strategies, some veteran and season teachers had suggested the reintroduction of entry exam at Gambia College for both diploma and Advance diplomas in education. The introduction of college entry exam would fish out not only with minimum entry requirement but those with mentally fit and competent person capable and qualify for college education. This would also be followed with an interview that would constitute of well balanced veteran tertiary educationists who will screened the interviewee to later and recommend the best candidates for all the programs mounted by college. Therefore, the issue of garbage-in garbage-out would be seriously diminished.
This would eventually reduce the backflow of people in the college programs who would only poison the minds of the young ones. The college staff would also be relieved from people who seek place for their children who are not capable to do the job but to uplift them from the bondage of unemployment.
In similar vein, some had stressed the need for scrutinizing the mode of recruiting lecturers and their method of service deliveries. Some people stated that the incompetency of some lecturers at Gambia College had led to the employment of some of those undesirable elements among the desirable ones. Someone stressed that some teacher trainees were given marks during their teaching practice that don’t commensurate their output. One senior teacher from one lower basic school informed me that they were never happy with the performance of one TT and attached her to one teacher but when the lecturer came to observe her she scored B grade which doubted them since that TT’s records were not up to date, her plans were not properly done and did not even provided teaching aids for that lesson.
This among others had triggered some to doubt the competency of the caliber of lecturers at college. Some suggested that they may have the certificate to lecture at college but lack skills and experiences to deliver. Some may have the skills and experiences but lack moral to handle such level of students in academia.
It is paramount for the society to judge either ways and don’t be salient with good information. This is a national development that requires concerted efforts from all and sundry be it a Gambian or non-Gambian as long as you are living in the country we all have a stake in the development of the education of this country to the highest height.
I would also like to join other in advising PS MOBSE and the entire ministry to bring back competition in lower basic school like common entrance for lower basic school. We understand the law of uninterrupted basic education but where there is no competition people would not value it much if any. If there is an element of competition at lower basic school, teachers would do their very best to teach effectively and efficiently.
To crown all, I am with the motion of reintroduction of college entry exam for the school of education of Gambia College for all the rest of educational programs and at the end of each year, a comprehensive exam continue to given to student and whosoever fail be dropped from the program or ask to repeat the year
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