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Sep 8, 2015

Faith Nazarene Still Closed as Teachers and Parents Protest

Classes resumed across the country on September first, but since the start of this week, students at Faith Nazarene Primary School in San Ignacio, Cayo have been told not to report to classes. On Monday, when the students reported to school, the teachers kept the classrooms locked. Along with parents, they are demanding the removal of the principal, Policarpia Pech, due to the alleged mismanagement of the school affairs. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

For a second day since the start of the week, students have stayed away from classes at Faith Nazarene Primary School in San Ignacio.  Their absence is the result of an ongoing dispute where both parents and teachers are demanding the immediate removal of Policarpia Pech as principal.

 

Fernando Cruz

Fernando Cruz, Parent

“The school has been going through issues for the last four years as far as I am aware because my child has been coming here for the last four years and there’s been, as far as I am aware, there has not been sort of a consistent management or running of the school.  There’s been issues at different levels, for example, like my child for the last four years has not had one full teacher through the whole school year.  To me that is wrong, you know.  I think that some of the teachers have come to meet here, some of the teachers have met me here as a parent but they have come and encountered a problem here and I think they have gotten enough.  I think some of the parents have gotten enough.  Some of the students have had enough but they can’t say anything because in reality they are not given that initiative to say anything and I think that the frustrations over the holidays have taken a toll and the teachers have decided to take a stand and they want the head of the school to be changed.”

 

Parents and teachers are alleging a number of infractions on the principal’s part, including misappropriation of funds.  While General Manager Raymond Shepherd decline comment today, Fernando Cruz, whose child is enrolled here, says information has not been as forthcoming.

 

Fernando Cruz

“What I’ve heard or the bit of feedback we got, they want the principal to be changed. They want a change and I think this whole thing about being fired is not within the criteria at all; they just want a change. You find another teaching job somewhere else because I think even remaining within the same environment it will create the same animosity among parents, among teachers. I think the teachers want the same thing, but for whatever reason, the Ministry of Education seems to be putting its foot in there to hinder this thing from taking place. I don’t know whether they were intimidated because the principal brought in a lawyer and I guess typically within Belize, whenever a lawyer gets thrown into the equation, people seem to be intimidated. But I think the teachers have had enough and they themselves are telling their management that they won’t step back into a classroom until that head is changed.”

 

Teachers at Faith Nazarene say they will remain on strike until the situation is resolved.  News Five understands that initially Principal Pech was placed on long leave but since the prolonged absence doesn’t speak to her removal from the school, teachers have rescinded on that agreement. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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