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Jun 18, 2014

Maud William high school teachers are first on the chopping block

Maud Williams High school teachers are now on vacation; but while they are attending a school workshop, some were surprised with dismissal letters this afternoon, resulting from the merger of three south side schools. While the Maud Williams teachers were the first to receive their marching orders, it is expected that dismissal letters will also be sent to others from the Sadie Vernon and Excelsior high schools. At this early stage, there are signs that some teachers will be fighting back; one in particular who is eminently qualified with a master’s degree says she is heading to court. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Five teachers employed at Maud Williams High School are tonight without a job after receiving notice earlier today that they are being made redundant.  The laying off of roughly one-fifth of the teaching staff was a somber moment for employees which comes as part of the restructuring of the school’s curriculum.  That streamlining is part of a bigger picture, the merger of educational resources of Sadie Vernon, Maud Williams and Excelsior high schools.  Since its introduction a few years ago, the Ministry of Education has decided to move ahead with the implementation of the union, in time for the upcoming academic year.  Despite being given ample time for the respective schools to conform to the ministry’s guidelines, the move has resulted in the dismissal of Marlin Rojas, Bernadine Villagram, Linden Lamb, Paula Gray and Maricruz Itzab.  Shortly after one o’clock they were informed that their services were no longer needed due to low enrolment at the institution.

 

Patrick Faber

In a press conference held earlier this month, Minister of Education Patrick Faber addressed the issue of redundancy.  While he acknowledged that unemployment for some is inevitable, the process of elimination, he said, would be based primarily on qualification.

 

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education [File: June 4th, 2014]

“If a member of staff of any of these schools is made redundant that that teacher continues or needs to be put immediately on pension so that there are two options when that kicks in if that needs to kick in. Firstly, that if that person is expected to continue in the teaching profession but is merely being displaced because of the kind of deployment that is happening at the school at that time, because of the redundancy then that person will be put on what they are calling a temporary pension and, of course, as soon as that person can be reemployed in the education system that pension will cease. There are other instances where we don’t expect people to be reemployed and they will start a pension at whatever age they are until they depart. We are trying to make sure that that is minimized, the situation where teachers are made redundant.”

 

News Five has learned that the ministry, as a result of consulting the existing labor laws, backpedaled on its initial plan to get rid of teachers who were either underperforming or unqualified.  Instead, the alternate approach was to dismiss those who were hired last.

 

In the case of one instructor who has over twenty-five years of teaching service, while her letter points out that she is entitled to benefits under the School Teachers’ Pensions Act, she contends that her dismissal is unjust since it is the ministry that transferred her to Maud Williams seven years ago.  Interestingly, said lecturer possesses a Master’s degree in Education Leadership, with a minor in Secondary Education.  She has indicated off record that she is exploring her legal options since she intends to challenge the grounds of her release.  On the other hand, we are being told that the school has opted to retain the services of a lesser qualified teacher which flies in the face of the ministry’s initial position.

 

Teachers who have been asked to stay on have received a letter from the Board of Management of Maud Williams.  The letter, signed by Chairperson Nicole Middleton reads, “The Board of Management hereby informs you that you have been assigned continuing employment on the staff of Maud Williams High School for the upcoming school year 2014-2015.  Attached are the Conditions of Service you will be expected to comply with as a teacher.  Please indicate your acceptance to return under these conditions by signing and returning a copy of this correspondence by June twenty-seventh, 2014.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

 

The teachers are attending a workshop to develop a new curriculum for the upcoming school year. 

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3 Responses for “Maud William high school teachers are first on the chopping block”

  1. Timber says:

    My suggestion; every teacher strike! However, by what I’ve witnessed in Belize, this won’t work because there’s always a few who will be called behind closed doors and given promises and they will cross the picket line. The unions had a great opportunity a few years ago when teachers, B.T.L. and others protested . You had them right where you wanted them. Maybe some of you didn’t know that our banks operated on a telephone system, also does the airport controls and a few other businesses. For those who are wondering what I’m saying, if you are ever in the US and you or a family member have to swipe your credit card, some small vendors still have the antiquated system where you will hear a dial and ringing tone like you hear when using the telephone. Hence, if someone else is using that line for any other reason, your transaction won’t be processed because the line will be busy. At the time of that strike a few years ago, I think only one bank wouldn’t have been affected. Also, our planes wouldn’t have ben able to land. Imagine, we tout Belize as a tourist destination but haven’t upgraded our air traffic control system. The Teachers Union better act fast and decisively on this. Come on Kathleen! Where are you and Lisa? This could have been you! I’ve asked before, who determines who gets retrenched? Having a degree and/or a teacher’s certificate does make you a certified teacher but not necessarily a qualified teacher. I’ve seen some of these teachers’ notes and methods first hand and believe me, teachers years ago would run circles around them. Teaching is an art. You adapt to the strengths and weaknesses of your students.

  2. Bill Willitts says:

    Accept it. It is progress for the Nation. Painful but Progress

  3. belizean@heart says:

    UDP ALL THE WAYYYYY…VOTE UDP AGAINNNNNNNN..and they will continue to fu%$ up our Belize more and more!

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