A Gambian parent, who had transferred one of his kids from the Groupe Scolaire (Bilingue) Diana Mariam school in Fajara to the Marina International school says the school administration under the leadership of lawyer Mary Samba, had resorted to retaliation by allegedly expelling two of his kids, who were already enrolled in the same school. Mr. Abdoulie Sowe, an IT engineer and also a local internet provider in Banjul, has accused the Groupe Scolaire (Bilingue) school of “wrongful termination and inhumane treatment” against his son Muhammed Sowe and daughter Khadjah Sowe respectively. Sowe made the allegation against the school, in a letter he addressed to the Director of Regional Education Directorate 1, Kanifing. The letter dated February 2nd 2019, also alleged that the school’s action against his kids was occasioned largely because of his decision to transfer his daughter Aji Fatou Sowe to the Marina school.
“ I wish to bring to the attention of your office irregularities taking at the Groupe Scolaire (Bilingue) Diana Mariam school in Fajara. My two children named above were detained and isolated from their classmates from 8:30 am to 3:30 PM and expelled from the school with immediate effect without justification. The isolation, detention and the watchman telling them that they will not be allowed into the school premises anymore; has caused so much trauma and psychological damage to them; that up to now they are asking me what they have done wrong coupled with the loss of education time while I look for another school. The only reason given in a letter for the inhumane treatment is that I have transferred their elder sibling to another school,” Abdoulie Sowe alleged in a protest letter he sent to Gambia’s Education officials.
Groupe Scolaire (Bilingue) school authorities could not be reached for immediate comment during the weekend over Sowe’s allegations that his kids were detained in the school before they were expelled. The school is said to be owned by lawyer Mary Samba.
“I had three kids attending the school in Nursery 3, Primary 4 and form 1. My kids have been in the school for more than ten years and I have never owed them any fees, or my kids involved in any disciplinary activity,” he added.
There was no record to show or suggest that the Regional Education Director for Kanifing has responded to Sowe’s letter. There was no acknowledgement from their end confirming receipt of Sowe’s letter.
But the Groupe Scolaire (Bilingue) school in a letter dated January 24th 2019 informed Sowe that: “The placement committee of Groupe Scolaire Diian Mariam has deliberated on your decision to withdraw your child from the school without notice. It has now come to our attention that Aji Fatou Sowe has since been placed at Marian school. You had previously assured staff that her absence was due to a hospital appointment.”
“Your action tends to bring the school into disrepute, and it is unacceptable. The committee has therefore concluded that you have no confidence in the school and has under the circumstances deemed it necessary to ask you to immediately withdraw her siblings namely Muhammed Sowe and Khadija Sowe, effective Monday 28th January 2019. The two children will not be admitted to class by the above date,” the school administration stated.
Sowe has denied the school’s claims that he told them that his child was sick on the day in question. He said his daughter was supposed to sit an admission test and as such she couldn’t made it to school on time. He said Aji Fatou Sowe reported to school after sitting the test. He said one of the reasons he decided to transfer his daughter to Marina was Mariana’s science classes were far better.
After parting ways with the school, Sowe said he demanded that the tuition fees that he paid for his expelled kids be refunded by the school. His wife Fatou Gibba Sowe went to the school in Fajara to demand for a refund, but according to Sowe, his wife was allegedly assaulted by one Abdou Njie, a cashier at Groupe Scolaire (Bilingue) school.
The matter, he said, was reported to the Kairaba police station. He added that Njie was charged, and his case is still pending. The school had also refunded the tuition fees he paid for his kids, he said.