Tuesday, May 28, 2024

Response to the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education’s Memo on Teacher Participation in the National Population Census

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OPINION

By Modou Musa Cham, Faculty of Education (UTG)

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The recent memo from the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MOBSE) dated May 8, 2024, has sparked significant concern and debate among the education community. The directive, which restricts teachers on the government payroll from participating in the forthcoming national population census, raises several questions, particularly regarding the identification of teachers on any sort of leave, as claimed by MOBSE.

The decision to exclude teachers but allow cluster monitors and other education managers to participate in the census has been perceived to be discriminatory and unjust. As one vocal critic aptly put it, “the decision to elbow teachers from the conduct of census yet allow cluster monitors and other education managers to participate in the census process is witchcraft! Explain it anyhow, it wouldn’t make sense. Any entity interested in attaining the contact hours of the education calendar would know that as much as teachers are crucial in that drive, so are cluster monitors and other education managers!”

This statement underscores the flawed logic behind the decision. Teachers, cluster monitors, and education managers are all integral to the development of the education system. Removing one group while allowing others to participate in external activities undermines the cohesion and effectiveness of educational delivery. It also signals a lack of appreciation for the critical role that teachers play, not only in education but in broader societal functions such as the national census.

The exclusion of teachers from this process can be interpreted as a missed opportunity for national engagement and civic responsibility. Teachers, by virtue of their profession, are well-placed to contribute to the accurate and effective gathering of census data. Their widespread presence across the country and their trusted position in communities make them invaluable assets in such national exercises.

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In light of this, it is crucial for teachers to respect the decision in good faith, as it is an official directive. However, it is equally important for them to form a united front to demand better pay and improved working conditions. The current situation highlights the need for a more balanced and respectful approach to policy-making that genuinely considers the input and welfare of teachers.

Teachers should leverage this moment to advocate for their rights and demonstrate their indispensable role in both the education sector and broader societal functions. By organizing collectively, they can push for policies that recognize their value and ensure fair treatment across the board.

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