Gambia Teachers’ Union launches books
By Cherno Omar Bobb
The Gambia Teachers’ Union (GTU) as part of celebration of World Teachers’ Day on 5th October 2023 launched several supplementary reading books authored by Gambian teachers.
Part of the development and printing of the books was funded by the Australian Education Union under the guidance of the Pan-African Teacher Centre.
The Pan-African Teacher Centre through the Gambia Teachers’ Union launched a 12-day book development initiative in The Gambia to develop culturally relevant supplementary reading materials for children at the primary school level.
The initiative is geared towards addressing the low reading culture in schools and providing an opportunity to children in underprivileged communities to access reading materials at no cost. It was also meant to expose the participants to the tenet of writing. The hope is that as the children grow, they will adapt the culture of reading whilst recongising the cultural significance and values of their communities.
Twenty teachers (10 male and 10 female) were selected for the exercise to strike a gender balance in the implementation of the programme as well as to ensure full representation of the voices of women.
Among the booked launched are ‘Aisha’ by Momodou Baka Dem, ‘The School Girl’ by Adama K Baldeh, ‘Annual Speech and Prize Giving’ by Michael H Secka, ‘Girls Right and Education’ by Jainaba D. Jarbang, among others.
The supplementary reading books will be distributed to children in underprivileged communities (schools) to access reading materials at no cost.
Omar J. Ndure, lead facilitator of the project said most of the reading materials in schools are not very much responsive to our morals and culture. He added that for this reason they decided to write the stories and books that reflect our Gambia situation.
Mr Ndure observed that the culture of reading in the country is very low and therefore advised people to pick up a book and read at their free time.
“The low reading is directly or indirectly affecting the performance of students in the country particularly in English,” he highlighted while calling on the Ministry of Basic and Secondary Education (MoBSE) to ensure the reading culture in our schools is maximised.
“If children cannot read and cannot understand instructions then they cannot pass examinations,” he stated. He also called on teachers to encourage students to read, saying even with the internet, we still need books.
In reading Dr Dennis Sinyolo, Education International African Regional Director’s message, Essa Sowe, cordinator of the project said the project seeks to address the lack of culturally relevant materials in schools.
He emphasised the significance of involving teachers in the process, saying teachers are not passive implementers of the curriculum but agents of change.
He called on government to provide adequate funding in line with its commitment at both national and international levels as well as pay particular attention to the welfare of teachers.
He added that the books will contribute to quality education, saying that Education International strongly believes that quality education is defined in terms of context and culture.
He further said that Education International and GTU believe that the supplementary reading materials will help address shortage of teaching materials in disadvantaged schools and improve the quality of education.
“We hope that MoBSE will authorise teachers to use the books for official use in schools so that all learners in all inclusive way benefit from quality education whatever their social condition is,” he stated.
Bakary Sanyang, director general for the Gambia National Library Services Authority in his launching remarks said to have an institution launch these quantities of books is the first of its kind in the country and therefore commended GTU and partners for the initiative.
Mr Sanyang described the books as not just books but they met the standards, are presise and in simple English. He added that the books also depict our Gambian reality.
“This is a classical achievement for teachers and the education fratenity in the country and I commend you for the initiative,” he concluded.