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Apr 22, 2005

Education Ministry condemns teacher walkout

Story PictureWhile leaders of the teacher’s union sought to rally their rank and file, many of the children they are paid to teach found themselves walking into empty classrooms. That situation did not sit well with Chief Education Officer, Maud Hyde. Hyde made the media rounds today to tell the public that Belize’s children should not be used as pawns in the ongoing political struggle.

Maud Hyde, Chief Education Officer
?The Ministry?s position is that we in no way support the call for the closing of schools. We do not support the union asking the teachers to come out of school during the regular school days. We feel that if the union wants to meet with the teachers or talk to them, they can meet outside of school hours because it is affecting the education of our children.?

?It was entirely irresponsible for the union members to go around to schools to encourage teachers to leave school when students were already in school. Parents had already brought in students, there was nobody in most cases to take children home, and asking teachers to just walk away and leave the classroom–these children are entrusted in the hands of teachers to ensure that they are safe, so it is entirely unreasonable. We are asking the managing authorities, the principals, the teachers, to be reasonable, to be sensible in this situation. Everybody is entitled to their opinion, but the safety of our children must be first, and the education, we cannot afford to be interrupting the education process whenever somebody wants to use the children as their bargaining chip.?

Hyde says that if a state of emergency is declared, then schools would probably be closed to facilitate the movement of police and to ensure the safety of children, but at this time there is no such declaration. She says teachers who are paid by government could face a salary deduction for any unauthorized absences.

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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