Good evening fellow students, distinguished comrades, Staff, Management, and all other stakeholders in the realm of Higher Education in The Gambia. We have learned with great concern and amusement that the Faculty and Staff Association is to embark on another sit-down strike by mid-September when the University is supposed to resume. This news is as worrying as it is disturbing. It is now the third time consecutively in the 2020 – 2021 academic calendar that industrial action is announced and executed in the University of The Gambia. The pulsating practice has now become an unfortunate norm.
You would all recalled that sometime last month, the UTGSU had invited both the UTG Management and Staff Association amongst other stakeholders to a negotiation meeting that resolved the past strike. But it appears that our ardent resolve to ending the fuss was just a transit point for the never-ending strike. This has manifested a gross negation of responsibility and duty for the progression of teaching and learning in UTG. Thus, the ultimate count for us now is not about who is right or who is wrong but who receives the brunt of the adversities.
Consequently, the innocent students, sons, and daughters of hard-working Gambians and non-Gambians are always the victims. This is unfair, outrageous and it cannot continue. Let me reiterate that the Students’ Union is committed to ending the perpetually or reoccurrence of this semesterly strike with drastic actions. We had endured so much; we had exercised so much patience, and in conditions that are deplorable and debilitating. Yet, to the knowledge of stakeholders, wittingly or unwittingly, they are seemingly normed to the practice and do not care about the situation of students; they sought the oblivion of sleep thereby allowing malfeasance to blossom and thrive.
Unarguably, learning and teaching have become even more difficult in UTG now, yet students remained very determined and steadfast against all odds. Now and again, instead of students reading progressive developments about the UTG, the newspaper headlines would always carry the news that ‘UTG staff to go on strike’. Enough is indeed quite enough!
The frequent appearances of this information on newspaper headlines suggest more paradoxes about the UTG than popular expectations. The UTG, as the highest citadel of learning, is supposed not only to teach ethics, morals, and professionalism but to practice and live by it as well. As elites, with the right and the required wherewithal to manufacture knowledge, guide the society and inspire best and positive practices, we should be exemplary in the way the UTG is run. But unfortunately, recent actions and incidents happening at the UTG are only inimical to the fidelity of professional ethics and sanctity of academia.
As helpless and disadvantaged as we have been, we cannot allow docility to smoothen the ambitions and aspirations of young and progressive University students. Be that as it may, I call on the government to take necessary actions to resolve the matter amicably. This should be done immediately before irreparable damage would be caused as a result of undue negligence. The Students’ Union, having observed and evaluated the whole issue has now resolved to initiate uncompromising cause; we would paddle our own canoe to get to the destination that we so much deserved and desired and without any smidgen of influence and/or fear of intervention by any external forces.
In Furtherance to that, the students’ Union would not entertain any further delay in the commencement of next semester. Equally, we would not allow any delay in the uploading of our last semester grades.
The UTG belongs to us: students. It is our fees that are used to run and carry out the daily operations of UTG as well as paying both staff and Management. As obvious as that is, the people who earn living from our coffers cannot even respect us; treat us with dignity and discharge their duties with the privilege and honor that accompanies it.
Fellow students, in this moment of mishaps and uncertainties, we urge all students to continue about their summer businesses and listen to the Students’ Union, which is the only supreme decision-making body on behalf of students in UTG. We further seek your cooperation in our subsequent actions with a view of putting an end to this problem once and for all.
19th Executive Council.
Cc: Office of the President of The Gambia
Permanent Secretary, MoHERST
Inspector-General of Police
Chairman, NA Select Committee on Education