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Nov 28, 2014

Teachers Unions Hold Regional Conference in Belize

There is an important executive meeting underway at the Belize Biltmore Plaza. For the first time, the Caribbean Union of Teachers has chosen Belize as the host country for its regular session. The two-day conference, organized by the Belize National Teachers Union, features participation from executive members of teachers’ unions in eighteen countries, for a total of twenty-six units.  The group meets every six months in different countries to discuss pertinent issues, leading up to a biennial conference which starts on Monday. Mike Rudon was there this morning and has the story.


Mike Rudon, Reporting

At the session this morning at the Biltmore, reports from the twenty-six units which make up the CUT will be presented, as the executive prepares for its education conference organized by the BNTU, the CUT and the body which oversees them all, Education International.


Marvin Andall – President, Caribbean Union of Teachers

Marvin Andall

“We’re discussing issues pertaining to our teachers unions, and the forward movement of education in the region, as well as the working conditions of our teachers and the learning conditions of our students.”


Luke Palacio – President, BNTU

“In terms of the education conference we are talking about issues which affect the Caribbean, for example we are going to have the Teaching Services Commission make a presentation because throughout the Caribbean there are efforts to establish either Teaching Services Commissions or Teaching Councils so it will also be a sharing and learning activity. We intend to talk about teacher education to see how teacher training and teacher education happens in the other regions. Definitely from the Caribbean they are interested in the matter of marijuana tourism. That is something they want us to look at. They are looking at the LGBT agenda. That is something that the Caribbean is grappling with and we in Belize as well. From Belize we will also be looking at the Occupational Safety and Health Bill.”


These types of conferences and collaboration assist the body of teachers unions in resolving cross-border issues, and can also be utilized to assist specific countries with issues specific to them.


Luke Palacio

“When we discuss issues, issues that relate to matters that we may need to take to Caricom governments, leaders of Caricom, we have made presentations through our affiliation with Education International. We are also able to ask them to represent us at places like the United Nations, UNICEF, etc. so basically whatever resolutions we pass, whatever decisions we make, we are engaged in meetings at the international level including the commonwealth teachers groups, so basically those are the types of things that we will follow. Some things of course are unique to a particular territory and therefore the objective then is to get support from the other units in terms of writing at least to their ministers of education so that when the ministers of education of the region meet, those issues are also aired.”


And what it really boils down to is a meeting of the minds, where teachers can use information as power in moving the agendas of the teachers unions forward.


Marvin Andall

“This coming together prevents us on many occasions from reinventing the wheel. We are learning from each other so that when situations arise we have background information, alternative solutions to problems that we face based on the collective experiences that we would have gathered from our colleagues around the region.”


According to Andall, some of those challenges which cross borders include salaries and teaching conditions, issues with which teachers in Belize are all too familiar.  Mike Rudon for News Five.


On Monday there will be a three day Education conference organized by the BNTU, CUT, and Education International, the body which governs all teachers’ unions across the world.

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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