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May 24, 2018

A ‘Comprehensive’ Sit-Out by Teachers over Final Grades

Teachers at the Belmopan Comprehensive High School are on a sit-out. Today when we travelled to Belmopan, we found most of them sitting out in the school compound and most students were left on their own. But teachers say they are participating in the sit-out because they are not satisfied with the school’s Board of Management. According to the teachers, they’ve been frozen out from the processing of graduation results, as a matter of fact; they say some last minute changes to policies do not sit right with them. They believe that it compromises the integrity of the grades and set a very bad precedent. Andrea Polanco was in Belmopan today and shares more about the sit out.

 

Andrea Polanco, Reporting

It’s day two of a teachers’ sit out at the Belmopan Comprehensive High School. Students are standing around idly, others are heading home and well, others are just waiting to find out when they will have classes. But these teachers gathered outside on the school grounds say they don’t know when they will go back to class because they need an audience with management. The reason these teachers say they are not in the classroom is because the school’s Board of Management is meddling in the process of finalizing grades for students, specifically for those in fourth form. This should be an independent process free from interference and it is one that is guided by regulations. But everything in place to prevent corruption of grades has been bypassed and at the ninth hour new policies are being introduced to determine final averages for those to graduate. The grades are scheduled to be released tomorrow, but these teachers do not know how those final averages were put together.

 

Benita Quetzal

Benita Quetzal, Teacher, Belmopan Comprehensive High School

“Specifically, one of the main concerns is that there are not established policies and graduation results were supposed to be issued tomorrow and many of us have not seen our final averages for our students. We understand that some new policies will be implemented and we have concerns about them because as a school, we are one of the largest high school s if not the largest high school. And we have policies that have been put in place, not by one or a few people, but these are just being discarded and new policies popping up here, there and everywhere without any consultations with parents, teaches, without any of the stakeholders and so we are concerned about that.”

 

Teachers say they have not been given a reason why the method of calculating final grades has changed without due process.

 

Benita Quetzal

“We are using a system that I believe many schools use. We enter grades and our daily grades, our diploma exams and that is the extent of what we could see. Final averages, we normally have a process where once all grades have been entered, we have an opportunity to see them, correct any human error that we may have made. But this year that process was not done and we had to be requesting and requesting and finally it was open for us to see but as we said, that happened late yesterday after sitting out almost all day yesterday. So, we are not certain why it was not made available to us.”

 

So, on Friday final year students are expecting to receive their results. But teachers are concerned about the integrity of those results and they say parents don’t know the extent of the situation.

 

Benita Quetzal

“I think that all parents want accurate, honest, results. This institution, some of us went to school here and we are very proud of it. We think that graduating with a diploma from this institution means something and it should have value. We just want to ensure that. I am sure that parents understand and agree with that.”

 

And while we they want to go back in the classroom, teachers say this sit-out is necessary sacrifice of their commitment and love for what they do.

 

Benita Quetzal

“I think we are here because we are dedicated to our students and their education. I don’t think any teacher is here because they don’t want to be in class. They just find that the situation is unacceptable. I think that if parents fully understand the situation they will understand that this sacrifice is necessary. I am sure that want when a student leaves here with a Diploma from Comprehensive School, it was not just a given diploma; it’s a diploma that has value to it. And yes, the school year is wrapping up and I am sure that all teachers have considered that, have weighed it and have found it necessary to do that.”

 

Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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