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Jan 29, 2013

Mass shutdown of schools on protest day

While all the action was in Belmopan, the city was relatively quiet.  An overwhelming number of teachers answered the B.N.T.U.’s call for action. Here in the City, only a few schools kept their doors open. Duane Moody has that story.

 

Therese Roches, Principal, All Saints Primary School

“We had fifty percent of our staff attending school today and we had about one-tenth of our students attending today. So we went up to twelve o’clock and then we dismissed at twelve based on our manager’s consent.”

 

Duane Moody, Reporting

Some fifty percent of teachers at All Saints Primary and Nazarene High in Belize City were not in their classrooms; causing schools to close at close by twelve noon. That is because the teachers exercised their rights and joined the Belize National Teachers Union and several other unions in Belmopan for a peaceful demonstration against Government’s position of not paying salary adjustments. For institutions such as the Edward P. Yorke High and the University of Belize, life on campus was normal. While several teachers, who are members of the union participated in the demonstration, plans were put in place to keep the school functioning.

 

Selwyn King

Selwyn King, Public Relations Officer, U.B.

“At the university we have some lecturers coming from the UCB days whereby they are members of the teacher’s union and they have their rights to demonstrate and we respect their rights. But for us classes, businesses are as usual and for those lecturers, who are exercising their rights, well find the way to make necessary arrangements. But classes are going on. In the absence of the lecturers who are demonstrating and exercising their rights, we have systems in place whereby we have the chairs or deans that are carrying on.”

 

Therese Roches

Therese Roches

“Each teacher has his or her right and decide what he or she wants to do. So we sent a note to the parents yesterday informing them approximately how many teachers had committed to go to the demonstration and the other teachers knew that once they were not at the demonstration then their responsibility was to be at school, to be present. As the principal, I come to school because being the captain of the ship, I need to safeguard those who attend and we cannot close school. So we only closed this afternoon because our manager gave us consent based on the number of children that were here.”

 

It is on this basis that National President of the B.N.T.U., Luke Palacio, says that while under the Education Rules  it is the responsibility of the school’s management to maintain schools open, he believes that in respect of today’s demonstration, the rule is not good for industrial relations.

 

Luke Palacio

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

“We are saying that we don’t believe even though yes it is there, we don’t believe that it would be necessary at this time for that particular rule to be enacted because we know that it is teachers that are demonstrating. I would understand if there is a national disaster, some uprising of some other nature that then you can say so because what you are going to do now is you are going to try and inconvenience parents; parents have been calling us to say a got a note from the principal saying that the students must come to school but if you want to keep them home, you keep them at home because we can call them out at any time to come for your children. I think that again is not good for industrial relations, you know the teachers are going to be out, deal with the teachers if you have to but don’t have our parents become inconvenienced because they now might be wondering, they might now be scared but again we have said to our teachers that whenever B.N.T.U. take on any industrial action, we say to our teachers the school does not belong to the teacher, the school is for the management you give the keys to the management and let them do what they need to do.”

 

Teachers return to their duties on Wednesday and classes resume as per normal. Duane Moody for News Five.

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1 Response for “Mass shutdown of schools on protest day”

  1. Storm says:

    Don’t pay a penny to teachers who abandoned their responsibilities to protest. They are paid to teach, not demonstrate.

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