By Fatou Dahaba
Essa Sowe, Deputy General Secretary of The Gambia Teachers’ Union, has accused the Ministry Of Finance and Economic Affairs of withholding 73 Million Dalasis, which is meant to be disbursed to schools for the third term School Improvement Grant (SIG), expressing concern over the delay in giving the money to the schools.
During a press conference on Thursday, July 6th, 2023, DGS Sowe stressed that it is almost the end of the academic year, and the Ministry of Finance still needs to disburse an amount of D15,110,516.00 to schools for the third term activities.
The SIG for the 2nd term sums up to D26, 035, 619.00 while textbooks, one of the most essential learning resources, sum up to D42, 120, 00.00.
“There is a whooping sum of D73, 266, 135.00. Arrears money due and owing for them to run the schools.”
According to him, out of the total requested D206, 636, 011.00 required for SIG and books, 35.5% is still pending at the end of the school academic year.
Mr. Sowe said that the amount of money unpaid to the schools is a big concern because the input and resources required to run their school must be more forthcoming.
The General Secretary also revealed that they have done investigations and thorough research and realized that according to the 2023 budget, the government is required to be providing a sum of D10 million monthly for the Ministry of Basic and secondary education to run the sub-sector, but they are given 4 million only which represents 40% of what is required to run the ministry.
Other SIGs, including the MoBSE Monthly Development cash plan, sent to finance, which is 6 862; 499.99 instead, they gave D3 million with a total funding gap of D3, 862, 499.99 equivalent to 56%.
“As part of these, the Gambia Teachers Union Credit Union is under pressure; schools head teachers and principals will have to run to the credit union to request an overdraft to do the little they’re doing in their schools.
Sowe urges the government to pay the money by July 19th, 2023; if not, they will convene again and advise themselves accordingly.
Ismaila Ceesay, President of the Gambia Teachers Union, said some years ago, the government decided to abolish school fees from public schools and introduced school improvement grants.
He remarked that schools have been given money to take care of education service delivery at the level of schools, by parents will pay at least nothing.
He said an agreement was made between GTU and the government that monies would be paid in trenches, that is, first, second and third terms.
He further states that a lot of engagement has been done to remedy the situation, but more improvement has yet to be made, and as a union, they fight for teachers’ rights and the education sector.