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Jan 25, 2014

B.N.T.U. heads west; rains didn’t deter teachers from sending message to G.O.B.

This morning teachers from the Cayo District Branch of the Belize National Teachers Union gathered at the Macal Park in San Ignacio. This is the fourth of ten peaceful protests planned by the union as it seeks to be heard on the salary adjustment and other pressing issues. Today’s gathering is the first since the Minister of Education’s vented on the teachers in the House of Representatives on Wednesday…a curious mix of subtle threats and a not so subtle scolding rounded out by a proclamation of love for teachers. Well today, teachers gave back as good as they got, all except for the love. They didn’t want any from the Minister, and they had none to give. Mike Rudon went west and has the story.

FOR VIDEO CLICK HERE: BNTU RALLY IN CAYO

Mike Rudon, Reporting

The day was gloomy and rain fell in cold, seemingly endless sheets, but none of that fazed teachers, as nearly six hundred strong, they stood in solidarity. These teachers say that if what the Minister of Education is handing out is love, they want no part of it. They were united and loud, and far from being deterred by subtle and not so subtle intimidation from the powers that be, they seemed energized by it.

 

Luke Palacio

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

“We are fighting for every single Belizean when we carry out these rallies. We are fighting of the children who come to school without food. We are fighting for the children who come to school without pencils to work. We are fighting for a better Belize for everybody. We always want to remind our students and we want to remind our teachers; whenever the Minister of Education visits your school, what does he say to the children? Don’t let anybody tell you that you cannot be what you want to be. And now he wants to come and tell the teachers what he wants us to be? Something is wrong, terribly wrong.”

 

Annette Pech

Annette Pech, Teacher, St. Matthew’s Government School

“They need to understand that teachers have a very powerful voice. It’s not all the time that they have the answers. They need to speak to their people and they need to listen to us about what our concerns are.”

 

Prime Minister Dean Barrow has said that as far as he is concerned, it is all about the money. But the teachers disagree as a matter of principle. They say that the money matters…there’s no getting away from that…but it’s about much more than that.

 

Juan Alas, Teacher, Our Lady of Guadalupe, Belmopan

Juan Alas

“We are here because we want to get rid of all those thing happening today. Not only with U.D.P. or P.U.P., we just want to get rid of that. We need a new system in place that will prevent corruption, prevent all those things happening today. But at the same time, we need what is rightly deserved.”

 

Delthia Perez, Teacher, Belmopan Comprehensive School

“At the end of the day everything is about economics, how much money you have, what can you afford, what you can’t afford? That is happening in society and it is affecting everybody, me, you, the young child in preschool; everybody. So coming out therefore me is not only for the money but it is about the wider picture, the bigger picture if I may say so. Belize having problems and Belizeans trying to come together to fix it; only that the teachers are taking the first step.”

 

Delthia Perez

Annette Pech

“One of the major things that I am out here for is because of the Social Security bill that is going on. For me, I have felt it personally, because when I got sick, I know what all I had to go through to doctor, the labs, the testing all these different things and for us not to be insured when we are going to our workplace. We don’t choose where we work, we are placed there. And for me that is one of the major things.”

 

There has been good attendance at the first four rallies, but not total participation. Some principals, managers and teachers remain conspicuously absent and some schools remain open. The B.N.T.U. attributes that to a constant intimidation meted out at different levels.

 

Juan Alas

“Right now as we are speaking, there is a school in Belmopan that is still having classes. He has said a lot of thing in the radio and you have heard it as well, in television stations, and he is intimidating teachers. But guess what we have reached a point that is not going to work, either with U.D.P. or P.U.P. That won’t work now, we need a change.”

 

David Cobb

David Cobb, Principal, St. Joseph’s School, Duck Run II

“The comments that are hurtful or trying got put us down will not help anybody at the end. It will only help to as a speaker said just to bring down his government. Because we are indeed very hurtful and we get very angry when you hear those kinds of comments being said or lashed out at you, when you give your all at your school.”

 

Luke Palacio

“When we stand up here and when we say to you that we will champion your cause we want you to stay in the course cause that is the important message. If they ever succeed in intimidating us, if they ever succeed in having us live in fear then we know what happens. We know what will happen to this country.”

 

Fausto Augustine

The general feeling at the rally was positive. These teachers feel that they are standing up for a good cause, and by their presence they are making a difference, even if just a small one. That resolve has been consistent, despite the best efforts by detractors in high places.

 

Fausto Augustine, Retired Teacher

“The Minister of Education to begin with, he is quite comfortable in what he is doing, so therefore he is not pleading for the teachers. He must realize that he was once a teacher and if he hasn’t been through this or if he has forgotten it, then something is radically wrong with him.”

 

Delthia Perez

“In my opinion they are politicians and they have their job to do, so at the end of the day we just have to do what we think we need to do. I am a teacher ands I believe we should teach by example, so by me being out here, I am telling my students, students if you believe in something then you have to stand up because if you don’t stand for something you will fall for anything at the end of the day.

 

And these teachers do not intend to fall for anything, and they refuse to be ignored. Mike Rudon for News Five.

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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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2 Responses for “B.N.T.U. heads west; rains didn’t deter teachers from sending message to G.O.B.”

  1. Rod says:

    Teachers again am going to tell you please smarten up. Get rid of these unions they are in collusion with this gov. They care nothing about you they are only interested in themselves getting a raise they couldn’t care less about you . Please teachers start to use unu head fu wa change these unions are in collusion with this gov. Kick them out Stanton alone do unu own thing .

  2. Ixchel Pop says:

    I count the rally as a resounding success; we have had enough of this foolishness..trying to pass of corruption as something else- Prime example as to why the education system is in a mess. As to Faber- I think we are at the tipping point with him. I can remember standing by him in the trenches and. What a huge and utter disappointment…what a horrible pompous windbag. I can’t wait to vote him out and will be reminding my fellow teachers of his hypocrisy.

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