BY Aja Musu Bah Daffeh
Professor Pierre Gomez, the Dean of School of Arts and Sciences at University of The Gambia has hailed the sit down strike currently unfolding at the country’s highest learning institute which begun March 1, 2017. He lauded the action of the University of The Gambia Faculty and Staff Association (UTGFSA) who are undergoing a sit-down strike, describing their action as normal since it is part of the bargaining strategies in any institution. He added that they felt that they were not treated fairly and the environment for learning at UTG is not conducive.
He decried students going round looking for chairs, pointing out that staff and students struggling to have access to toilets should stop and also academic decorum should prevail within the University for excellence to be promoted and for mediocrity to be a thing of the past in order for them to move on.
He added that they are calling for excellence and a new order in the ‘new Gambia’ where academia is celebrated and is no longer a situation where a group of people take everything for themselves, noting that they want the University to be opened to all Gambians irrespective of their situation, religion, background and status.
Prof. Gomez continued to say that he is not part of the executive but he is a member of the UTGFSA and they feel that what had happened is not in the interest of the common good. He further said decorum, co-values and transparency should take precedence in their work. He added that with the ‘new Gambia’, the doors should be opened to professors who can man the University as most of them acquired their degrees from top class Universities.
He further argued that academia is a place for competition and he urged people not to be afraid of competition because it brings development. He said he is calling on Gambians outside to come over and help develop the University as well as the nation. “Let us value and cherish what we have and the University should dissent away from politics so that it stays academic,” he advised. He said during their meeting with the Vice Chancellor, they gave him an option which is their plan B and that is if he is to stay, let him restructure and bring excellence to the University. He said the VC did not buy the idea that the strike will affect the students’ academic calendar because the academic calendar can be pushed to June as it was disrupted during the political impasse.
Essa Njie a graduate assistant at the Political Science Department at UTG described the sit down strike as a collective move because they have seen that UTG is not moving as expected and the SMT has set blind eyes on the problems that they have been encountering in the UTG which are being manifested on daily basis ranging from lack of seats, classrooms, internet facility and proper toilets which is conducive to a learning environment, adding that staff motivation is lacking at UTG.
He further noted that the issue of the sit-down strike is a collective move by the Faculty and Staff Association of UTG.
He said when the management bought six (6) vehicles worth 8 million dalasis, the UTGFSA became discontented with that move.
Mr. Njie asserted that they are looking forward to see SMT members resign if they have the interest of the University and that of the students at heart because they will never stop the strike until the SMT is dissolved. He concluded by saying the strike is in the interest of the University, Students and the nation at large.