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Apr 18, 2017

B.N.T.U. prepares for convention

The Belize National Teachers’ Union meets in convention beginning on Wednesday in Corozal Town. The unions use this medium to discuss usual union business for reporting to its membership such as financial reports and talks about the education system. Recently though, attention has been focused on the three-cornered race to succeed Luke Palacio who is term-limited and retiring after three successive terms as president. The candidates are Trade Union Senator and long-time teacher and B.N.T.U. executive member Elena Smith; Troy Coleman, a B.N.T.U. executive member of the Stann Creek branch and Mario Mesh, the president of the Corozal Rural branch. Smith is considered the favorite and last week denied having anything to do with a “misleading” message to union members seeking their support for votes at the Union convention. That message conflated the hosts’ plans for trips to the Commercial Free Zone and Chetumal. It is also of note that the promised million-dollar honorarium for teachers who did not participate in the B.N.T.U.’s strike last October was thought to be a sop to teachers who may influence their B.N.T.U. fellows. However, it did not go through for Easter vacation as expected by the Ministry of Education. News Five has put together some “greatest hits” from the trio of candidates’ appearances on this station – Smith during the Halloween B.N.T.U. protest in Belize City last October over lingering issues with the Ministry of Education; Coleman during a B.N.T.U. protest in Dangriga in January of 2014; and Mesh during an interview in Louisville discussing the problems of teachers in his constituency.

 

Mario Mesh

Mario Mesh, President, Corozal Rural Branch, B.N.T.U. (File: September 16, 2016)

“And one of the things that we have seen especially right now at the beginning of the year is that teachers have taken monies out of their pockets, to paint their classroom, to buy their material, to ascertain themselves that they have everything in the classroom, because the Ministry of Education has an expectation on them. So either they want or not, they will prepare, because that’s their job; and bear in mind even if they are not getting the three percent at this point, they are still spending on the classroom.”

 

Troy Coleman

Troy Coleman, Vice-President, B.N.T.U. Stann Creek (File: January 30, 2014)

“And they say this is about the money. They are about the money because they have all of it. We are about our children who we care for and we love. Tell your students today or tomorrow that you do not have a day of math because your teachers want to save your country for you. Tell your children tomorrow that your teachers don’t teach language arts today and yesterday because you are there to make sure that the opportunity for you in the future. Tell your students tomorrow that that no social studies yesterday or today because you know what, we want to make sure that we have less corrupt ministers in government.”

 

Elena Smith, Trade Union Senator/B.N.T.U. Executive (File: October 31, 2016)

Elena Smith

“Well, politics is in everything. We know that the government looks out for the government’s purposes and we have to look out for the members that we serve. And so in everything that they do it will be political, but we are not going to play the game that they are playing; we are going to be working on behalf of our members and by what our members tell us.  Unlike them…they do what they want to do when they want to do it. We do what our members tell us to do.”

 

News Five has seen other texts rallying teachers to vote which sources say are being organized by the Government in an attempt to keep Smith out of the presidency.  

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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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