By: Muhammed Lamin Drammeh
“What I gain from the car Wash and poultry alone monthly, I can pay two qualified HTC teachers from grade 7.1 towards 7.9”, Ousman Touray, a runaway teacher (RAT), who bagged his Higher Teachers’ Certificate from the Gambia College in 2017, asserted as he explained to The Fatu Network how his income changed after leaving the teaching profession.
Teaching is described by many as a noble profession that shapes and forms the path of budding leaders and administrators in every domain of national development. However, there has been some kind of a trending teacher exodus recently among young Gambian teachers as they quit the profession for other jobs. This has created a vacuum in many schools in the country despite the Gambia college delivering hundreds of teachers every year to the country’s ministry of basic and secondary education.
Ousman Touray is a young man who bagged his HTC from the Gambia College School of Education. He explained that he abandoned the field because there is no motivation, and his monthly earnings are insufficient compared to his needs.
“As teachers, we lack motivation from the government. We depend on a Monthly salary of less than, D7000 on a single shift. A bag of rice is D1500. Fish money is D200, which in a month will give you D6000. Breakfast for the family is D200, including my children’s lunch money when going to school plus my wife’s breakfast. So, I always realized that my budget is always in deficit at the end of every month,” Ousman revealed, narrating the challenges he faced as a teacher.
Ousman would, after two years as a teacher, leave the field and went on to open a poultry farm and two car washing workshops in Jambajelly. Financially okay now, Ousman told The Fatu Network that his income can pay two qualified teachers whose monthly payments start from six thousand dalasis to ten thousand dalasis including allowances.
He said he would advise young teachers to leave but said that the government should motivate teachers.
He said the government should motivate teachers; however, he would not hesitate to advise young teachers to leave.
Samba Jallow, 32, is another brilliant teacher who taught for seven years while continuing to live from hand to mouth. After seven years, and a period of deep thought, Samba discontinued being in the profession he dearly loved for a small business at the Brikama market.
“I resigned from teaching two years ago. I did my PTC and HTC, but could I not do anything meaningful financially. After a deep reflection without any financial progress, I decided to put an end to it and joined my uncle in a small business. Now, I have my shop, selling clothes. Ways better than what I earned from teaching,” Samba confessed to The Fatu Network.
He said that he has seen so many bright teachers in the profession who left the field because there is no motivation and incentive for teachers.
“I will never advise any bright student to be a teacher unless the person wants to be poor,” he pointed out.
Earlier this week, TFN reported a story on Kebba Gaye, a 28-year-old teacher who left the teaching field for tailoring. Gaye expressed that he left the field for the creative industry because he would like to establish his own business and not continue depending on his monthly salary.
Another young teacher who left the field for something else is Omar Saibou Camara, the Executive Director of the Fact-check Center.
Omar did not quit the field because it pays less, he left because he wanted to pursue a degree in Political Science, however, it is against the school policy of going to university without taking study leave.
Omar was teaching at Kabafita Upper and Senior Secondary school in Brikama. When the then principal realized that Omar was going to the University, he released him. He was then posted to Foni Bondali but he failed to go and instead continued his studies at the UTG, a decision that killed his teaching career.
“I left teaching because I couldn’t teach while going to the university as it was claimed to be against the policy of the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education. So, I quit and then looked for another job,” he explained.
While so many people continue to teach because they want to, some want an income that will be enough for their families.
Ansumana Camara, a youth activist and football administrator, taught for six years as a qualified teacher. He was a passionate teacher but also left the field, noting that the teaching job has been a trap for a lifetime of poverty in the Gambia. When quizzed why he left teaching, he narrated:
“Teaching was supposed to be lucrative; hence it is a field that prepares future citadels of the state. This is entirely different in the Gambia. It has ever been a trap for lifetime poverty. Inasmuch as you want to serve the state, the state should also understand that you have mouths to feed at home. Small wages, small salaries and no motivation. Worst of all, the budgets allocated to schools for their upkeep are inadequate. Working in areas with few resources for easing the job is not the least easy. Teachers deserve better, and the government ought to know. It was boring, and I had to leave for another field.”
The recent poor performance of Gambian students in the 2022 West African Senior School Certificate Examination (WASSCE), was attributed, by some people, to the poor delivery of teachers.
Ebrima Sarr, a teacher who still wants to continue teaching, said because of the lack of motivation for teaching, many young teachers do not care what has been affecting the performance of students.
“They don’t care. They don’t bother helping students beyond the classroom because the motivation is not there. Nobody can blame them; they have families and responsibilities. Some of them are teaching different schools to get something sufficient at the end of the month.” he argued.