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Dec 20, 2016

Teachers and Government Still Can’t Decide When to Come Back to School

Eamon Courtenay

Teachers and students across the country are officially on Christmas vacation.  Some are enjoying time with friends and family, while others are catching up with their to-do list ahead of the long weekend.  In spite of the festive holiday spirit, both are once again locked into a situation that is not necessarily of their own doing. Thousands of primary school children are not sure whether they will be returning to school on the third or the ninth of January.  That is because the Belize National Teachers Union, the Ministry of Education and Managing Authorities remain at loggerheads over the issue of makeup time resulting from eleven days of strike action back in October.  It’s a figurative tug-of-war which has the B.N.T.U. firmly rooted in its position that teachers will not be returning to their classrooms until January ninth, 2017.  On the other side of that knot, government, supported by the collective managing authorities, maintains that classes must resume six days earlier, compensating for teaching time lost during the protest.  According to the representative union, teachers are not budging.  Senior Counsel Eamon Courtenay, who represents the Belize National Teachers Union, says government is playing hard ball but not adhering to the Education Rules.

 

Reporter

“Sir, are your clients the teachers going to honor this January third that they should show up for work come the New Year?”

 

Eamon Courtenay, Attorney for B.N.T.U.

“You are asking the teachers to disregard the education rules, you are asking the teachers to be ordered by the government of Belize what to do? The answer is empathically no. I don’t understand why it is that the government believes that this is the way you treat teachers. This is the lack of respect that they have for a union and teachers. What business is it of theirs? There are managing authorities, there are rules and there are teachers that are represented by union and nobody believes that they have to speak to the teachers. Simply like infant children, you tell them what to do without a discussion. A little bit more of respect is expected here a little bit more of compliance with the rules that are binding on the teachers and the managing authorities is required.”

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