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Jun 20, 2014

12 teachers are fired in the merger of high schools

The merger of three high schools has so far led to the dismissal of a dozen teachers from the Maud Williams, Excelsior and the Sadie Vernon high schools. But questions are being raised by the teachers as to the real reasons behind their dismissal because the official explanation provided does not cut it for them. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has been following this story and has a report.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

A total of twelve high school teachers have been made redundant as of Wednesday, amid the ongoing merger of resources of three Belize City secondary schools.  Earlier this week, letters were issued to five instructors who were, up until then, employed at Maud Williams High School.  By the following day, six teachers from Sadie Vernon had also been served with their marching papers and one more, we are told, was let go from Excelsior.

 

Via Phone: Kathleen Flowers, Belize District President, B.N.T.U.

Kathleen Flowers

“All the letters seem to have been generated from a template wherein all were told the same thing, that their posts have been abolished and that each of them have experienced that abolishment of posts because of the restructuring that is being done at the schools, as well as the curriculum requirements for the new school year, that their posts may not fit into that and lastly, that they’ll be paid according to the Teachers’ Pensions Act in one of two categories.  So all the letters seem to be generic except that each teacher’s name was changed at the top.”

 

Those who are being asked to remain is based on the fulfillment of a one-year contract for the academic year 2014-2015.  Security of tenure is one of the many concerns being raised.

 

Via Phone: Kathleen Flowers

“If we’re talking about school’s looking at the curriculum and fitting the curriculum to the teaching staff then there is a sense that whilst these teachers may be given a letter to sign a contract this year we are not sure if the same will apply next school year.  So it seems like it will be visited on a year to year basis based on the needs of the school and where the school wants to head in that particular year.  So it’s something that will have to be cleared out year by year until the full scope of what ministry intends to do and the direction it intends to take with these schools is completely played out, you know.  So it has a level of unsurity as far as security of tenure is concerned for the remaining staff and we are hoping that it can be something that will be ironed out certainly enough for people to begin to feel secure in their jobs at this time, noh.”

 

The sentiment across all three schools is that the criteria used by the ministry to select teachers who would be kept on or made redundant is rather questionable.  In some cases, it is believed that the last in, first out rule was employed, while in others it may have been based on qualifications.

 

Via Phone: Kathleen Flowers

“From what we looked at it’s being taken straight from the education rules so it’s not anything outside of the realm of the education rules and what’s being required of a teacher to teach in their given post.  So it’s not anything new.  The only area of concern is that it’s only for a one-year period and so the question comes up as to what will happen in the next year.  But we are going to be trying to coordinate from the union’s end to sit down and talk through these things now that the letters have been given to teachers, talk through these things with ministry because that is our intention from the very beginning so that we look at how the process was engaged in and how it was treated with.  So it will become some of the questions that we’ll be seeking answers to very shortly.  We’re just waiting for some queries that were levied through the Teaching [Services] Commission by the president, the national president of the B.N.T.U. that is.”

 

Flowers says that as soon as those queries have been cleared up the Belize National Teachers Union will commence dialogue with the Ministry of Education to review the criteria used. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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