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Feb 25, 2010

Teacher’s union responds to education minister

Jaime Panti

Jaime Panti

It has been almost a week since more than a thousand teachers, at short notice, demonstrated in Belmopan. The removal of corporal punishment without an alternative was at the core of the teacher’s anger. The issue has remained in the public domain and if you’re wondering what the next move would have been, well today the president of the Belize National Teachers Union made an official statement taking the high road. Instead of using corporal punishment against the education minister, Jaime Panti apologized on behalf of Patrick Faber, who called them ignorant, and says that indeed B.N.T.U. needs alternatives on a number of issues. News Five’s Isani Cayetano has the latest from the union.

Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The statement succeeds a massive teachers’ demonstration on Independence Hill over the passage of the Education and Training Bill last Friday.  In the release Panti addressed the tit for tat between B.N.T.U. and the Ministry of Education concerning the issue of the removal of corporal punishment.

Jaime Panti, National President, B.N.T.U.

“We refrain from petty issues and name calling when it comes to the discussion on educational issues such as the now, corporal punishment in the Education Act.  No more this one is to blame and that one is to blame.  Educators in Belize – as the National President, I want to take the time to apologize to all of you for any sense or feeling of being offended by the recent statements made in the media by the Minister of Education.  With the changing times; corporal punishment has to go.  In no way does the union want to appear to want to keep it on our law books.  From the very beginning we have advocated that corporal punishment stay within the rules, just as is, until a more feasible structural set of processes and mechanisms have been put established.”

On the issue of teacher training, Education minister Patrick Faber recently commented on the percentage of teachers who are not up to par with the required educational standards prior to entering the classroom.  It is a point that Panti acknowledges, but says that the ministry is responsible for addressing.

Jaime Panti

“I think that from the ministry’s standpoint they realize that there is an issue.  There is a problem that needs to be resolved in relation to teacher training.  If he stated that sixty percent of which we know is a reality.  If you look at secondary schools it’s more than sixty so there is a serious problem in relation to teacher training.  Teacher training though has to be addressed from the level of also the hiring of teachers; that’s, you have to look at it from that perspective.  But it is a serious issue for the mere fact that you keep—how do you break that cycle? There a forty-three [high schools], you have about six institutions providing associates degrees in primary education so there has to be a target time that you have to address the majority of the teachers that are in the classroom.”

Despite opportunities to teachers to qualify themselves in pedagogy, Panti says there are certain factors that prevent them doing so.

Jaime Panti

“I know that the ministry is giving scholarships to teachers so that they can qualify themselves but I also know that there are a majority of teachers who also want to go but because of financial constraints they can’t have access to that. And I think that ministry is committed too; they have also the certificate program that they rolled [out] this year in which ministry is paying tuition.  I think it’s a very good effort but we also have to be mindful of the quality because you don’t want to rush to qualify people and then you sacrifice the quality.  It’s not quantity versus quality you have to take care of the quality.”

The Belize National Teachers Union says it remains hopeful to renew formal discussions with the Ministry of Education to a solution to the dispute in the interest of education. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

The full text of the message from the B.N.T.U. will be aired later in this newscast.

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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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4 Responses for “Teacher’s union responds to education minister”

  1. Tyadia says:

    Classy! Good job, Jaime Panti!

  2. Lany says:

    very classy indeed- Patrick might need a sesson you. Public Relations classes to be exact…

  3. Welcome Aboard Panti and Others! says:

    Many may not like the Minister, but he is correct and has the guts to do what it takes to develop our education system. Government should be less about popularity and whose feelings get hurt and more about doing what is right for the country no matter what. I’m glad that the union has seen the light!

  4. It’s cool that you get to see people who read your blog in person. I know plenty of Chicagoans read this blog, but we’d never recognize each other on the street.

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