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Jan 6, 2017

Why “Make-Up Week” Failed, According to Teachers’ Union

Students were away from the classrooms this week and so were teachers and other members of the Belize National Teachers Union. They are expected back in school next Monday as scheduled, long before a dispute between the B.N.T.U. and the Ministry of Education would come to boiling point. This latest salvo in an ongoing dispute came after the ministry and school managers determined that classes should resume on Tuesday without consultations with the B.N.T.U.  But the union said not so.  News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.

 

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

Classes to commence a second term for the academic year 2016 are scheduled for Monday, a full week later than the Ministry of Education had anticipated.  For the better part of this week primary school students have been kept at home, despite government’s request for classes to resume on January third.  While they go back to school at the start of the week, the matter of mediation and makeup time remains unresolved.

 

Adelaida Guerra

Adelaida Guerra, Representative, B.N.T.U.

“We were given forty-five days for the mediation process and maybe because of the holidays we have not started that process but we are ready to start the process anytime and I was hoping that when we started that process even this making up of time would come up in the discussion because teachers have always been saying that we are willing to make the time.  And in the Belize District, I know there was a meeting some teachers and principals were invited to a meeting where there was a timetable made or presented in which we were going to be making up time and some schools had already implemented that makeup time timetable that had us up until December when schools closed on the sixteenth.”

 

That makeup time, of which four days have now been lost, is very much an open wound.  Teachers believe that they have been shut out of discussions where it concerns the making up of lost classroom sessions.

 

Adelaida Guerra

“Teachers have not been consulted through their management because we are always at the end of everything.  We just have to do whatever they tell us to do and they don’t realize that we as the teachers are the ones who have to do the work.  We are the ones who have to do the work.”

 

And while those educators do have to follow through on the prescribed makeup time, children are being used by both sides in the standoff.

 

Luke Palacio

Luke Palacio, President, B.N.T.U.

“The bottom line is we are saying there are rules, let us follow the rules.  Using the children as pawns in this game is not going to cut it because at the end of the day you cannot be abusing people, you cannot be abusing the teachers because this is what this is coming to now; you want to abuse the teachers and make this cry of the wolf that the children are suffering.  For instance, if our teachers were to become exact, the whole system would collapse.  Right now out of these teachers salaries, some of these managements get a monthly contribution, a monthly financial contribution.  If our teachers were to decide to withhold that what would happen to those managements?”

 

The Ministry of Education has been rather quiet on the matter of what happens next, given the four days that have been ceded to teachers and students who opted to enjoy their full Christmas vacation. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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