In a joint effort to strengthen their capacity as social players, a group of union leaders from across Gambia are working to evaluate their situation and shape their collective voice.
Teachers travelled to Banjul, the capital of the Gambia, last week to take part in a three-day workshop, “Teachers’ effort for better education”, aimed at empowering them as agents of change within the education sector. The workshop was funded by UNESCO and hosted by Education International (EI).
Right from the beginning, participants promptly agreed that the United Nations 2030 development agenda has opened up a crucial window of opportunity to improve education, especially in the least economically developed countries.
“The education unions have to gear up their effort to become a crucial player in this moment”, said Marie Antoniette Corr, General Secretary of the Gambian Teachers Union (GTU).
The country has been tasked with defining a new education plan spanning from 2016 to 2030, which is to be launched by a national conference next week. This is the 15 year time frame in which the unionists at the workshop discussed their role in defining education policies, especially where they are funded by donors such as the World Bank.
Although the group agreed that quality education has no potential without effective teachers, they also expressed concern that their voice is seldom listened to by foreign institutions who create and fund policies that later prove to have few positive effects.
In order to strengthen their position in the process, the teacher union leaders present at the Banjul seminar have defined their position on what the education system of the Gambia would most urgently need: an innovative vision on curriculums, better working conditions for teachers, and first and foremost, their participation and engagement in the decision-making process.
The workshop is a part of the global project originated to integrate teachers into the policy decision-making process. Seminars have previously been held in Liberia, Haiti, Nepal, the Congo, Benin and Senegal.