Group photo at the Event
By Ramatoulie Jawo
The Gambia Teachers Union, Namie Foundation, and Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education launched the National Teachers Prize on Monday, September 25, 2023.
The award will recognize and celebrate the work of teachers and educators in national development.
Lamin Jarjou, a member of the organizing team for the National Teacher Recognition Event, announced that the event will be held in line with its set objectives of honoring outstanding teachers who have distinguished themselves in serving the profession through the years.
The event will be held at the national level, with all seven educational regions participating.
“So what we have put in place, basically, is to have what we call regional committees. And then these regional committees will also have membership in national committees, which is like a decentralized body as far as the award is concerned and the selection process, they are going to send at least one or two members to each regional committee for this award. So teachers can be nominated by any kind of individual. They can be nominated by teachers, students, or the community members. Any teacher who people feel is worthy of the prize can be nominated by anybody,” Mr. Jarjou said.
Mr. Jarjou announced that the selection committee will use a set of criteria to evaluate candidates for the award. One of the criteria is likely to be the number of years of teaching experience.
“So the selection process will be at the regional level, then at the national level. So those who have qualified at the regional level will now escalate their competition at the national level, which is going to be in February 2024,” he said.
Essa Sowe, the deputy general secretary of the Gambia Teachers Union, believes that partnering with the Namie Foundation and the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education to create programs that will attract, motivate, and retain highly qualified and ethical people to the teaching profession is a worthwhile endeavor.
“We have seen a situation in the country where investment in education is very minimal. The ministry for Basic And Secondary Education is actually struggling with the budget that the central government is giving them, that have gone to the point where teachers are operating with the barest minimum. We have seen situations where teachers are living in very serious and unpleasant conditions, which actually is sending away students with very quality results to join the teaching field. So this scheme will go a long way to attracting potential teachers, and then not only that, but it will motivate the existing ones as well as serve as a retention strategy, so we are very happy to collaborate with the Namie Foundation and the Ministry of Basic And Secondary Education,” he highlighted.
Alpha Bah, the Director of Standards and Quality Assurance at MoBSE, welcomes the initiative.
“This is a very important opportunity for us as a government and as a country to capitalize on. So what we are saying here is that we are really part of this. This is coming at a time when we are reforming our educational agenda by ensuring that we improve quality and foundational learning. And the teacher, who is the most important factor for quality, is now being celebrated. We have a process where we will celebrate, identify the best teacher, and celebrate the things teachers are doing in this country in a way that is not subjective. So for us as a government, we can not say anything but to say it’s a moment that we are happy to really drive this process to take ownership and move forward with it,” he highlighted.
Alassan Susso, the chairman of the Namie Foundation, said they are gathering to ensure that teachers get the recognition they deserve. He also highlighted his institution’s objectives.
“The Namie Foundation was established a couple of months ago with three objectives: first, we want to uplift the teaching profession in the Gambia. Secondly, we want to ensure that every Gambian child receives a high quality of education; and finally, we want to ensure that people with disabilities are empowered to live a meaningful life and use their knowledge and skills to serve something greater than themselves,” he said.