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Dec 29, 2016

Secondary School Principals: It’s Back to School on January 3rd, Not 9th

Is the Belize National Teachers Union alone in its face-off with the Ministry of Education over the resumption of classes in January?  The Belize Association of Principals of Secondary Schools, led by Chairperson Omar Longsworth, is the most recent group to call on teachers and students to return to school next Tuesday.  The BAPSS is not an affiliate of B.N.T.U. and is involved primarily in the interests of secondary schools across the country.  In a release issued earlier today, the association reaffirms the position taken in November regarding the days that have been factored into the upcoming semester to make up for time lost during the eleven-day strike a month earlier.  The memo echoes the views of the Belize Association of General Managers of Pre and Primary Schools, as well as the Roman Catholic Chancery, that the dates chosen to make up for lost teaching time are in fact reasonable.  A total of three stakeholder organizations are in agreement with the Ministry of Education that classes should resume on January third; however, the B.N.T.U. remains firm in its position that teachers and students should enjoy all three weeks of their Christmas vacation.  While the B.N.T.U. is relying on the Education Rules, there is an appeal to all interested parties to remain focused on the well-being of students.

 

On the Phone: Omar Longsworth, Chairperson, BAPSS

“On the eighth of November we had a meeting, the principals had a meeting with the senior management from the Ministry of Education and at that meeting we had agreed that we would be opening up, classes would resume on the third of January to try to make up for some of the days that were lost during the strike action in October of 2016.  And so the principals unanimously agreed that we would open schools on the third and in that way we would be able to make up four days in January and then an additional two days in the Easter Break.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“What relationship is there between the BAPSS and the B.N.T.U.?  Are you guys a subset of the other?  How does that work?”

 

On the Phone: Omar Longsworth

“Oh no, no, no.  These are two separate entities.  We have, as an association we generally look after the interest of secondary schools in the country and from time to time there is communication with the Belize National Teachers Union.  Early this year we had a meeting with the B.N.T.U. with respect to just sharing issues and so.  So we do discuss but no direct where we are under an umbrella of the B.N.T.U. and that sort of thing.  We’re a separate institution.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“There seems to be two separate messages being sent here and it seems to be a tug-of-war of sorts where one organization is saying classes will resume on the ninth and they are adamant that there teachers will go back on the ninth and the other organization is saying that classes resume on the third, and this would be primary and secondary schools, respectively.”

 

On the Phone: Omar Longsworth

“Yes.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“Speak to me about the message being sent to students here, because once again students find themselves in the middle of this back and forth.”

 

On the Phone: Omar Longsworth

“Well, we are going on the position that we have taken as principals of secondary schools back on November eighth.  Our position remains, it has been and it remains that we are going to open classes on the third.  We are appealing to our students to report to classes because we believe that these days will provide the additional time that students need to make up for those times that were lost.  So we continue to insist on that as an association based on the agreement that we had with the Ministry of Education back in November.”

 

Isani Cayetano

“And how do the Education Rules factor into this particular situation?  I know that the rule has been a reference point being used by both the B.N.T.U. and the ministry.”

 

On the Phone: Omar Longsworth

“Well yes there is, and the situation is that the ministry, we believe, do have the prerogative in consultation with the stakeholders concerned to make provisions for the makeup of classes when days are lost as in the case of this time with the strike action.  And so believe as a body that it’s in the best interest of our students that we collaborate with the ministry in terms of those days that were lost, and so there is provision, we believe, in the rules with respect to the ability of the ministry, in its position as the Ministry of Education, that they do have the prerogative to make provisions for additional days.  And so we concurred with that and as a result we decided to go along with the decision to open classes on the third of January.”

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Viewers please note: This Internet newscast is a verbatim transcript of our evening television newscast. Where speakers use Kriol, we attempt to faithfully reproduce the quotes using a standard spelling system.

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