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Feb 7, 2005

Teachers, students return to school

Story PictureThe temperature in the old capital, the new capital and many other parts of the country dropped several degrees today….and it had nothing to do with any passing cold front. With teachers and government workers back on the job and members of utility unions labouring to provide service instead of disrupt it, the tensions of the last several weeks have been visibly reduced. But while life on the streets is back to normal, the dispute over wages, taxes and reforms has not yet been settled. Meeting over the weekend and through today, negotiators from government and the unions are going over the fine print of a nine point draft agreement. Neither union nor government participants would comment officially on the status of the negotiations but several sources indicate that the sticking point is the question of taxes. That is, while the new tax increases have been postponed to March first, what measures, if any, will be reintroduced to raise the revenue that all sides concede is necessary for the country to emerge from unsustainable deficit financing. We’ll come back to this question shortly but first we go to News 5′s Jacqueline Woods who spent the better part of her day visiting city schools.

Jacqueline Woods, Reporting
Following a two week break from school, thousands of primary school students returned to the classroom.

Kasandra Madrill, Std 6 Student
?I was really concerned because I really want to pass my PSE really well. So I really wanted to come back to school.?

According to the general managers of the Roman Catholic, Anglican and Methodist Schools, by afternoon, attendance had returned to normal levels.

Carol Babb, General Manager, Anglican Schools
?I spoke to one of my principals on the south side from St. John?s Primary School and the turn out for children was about sixty-five percent. All staff members were present. All Saints Primary School did not give me a figure but their attendance was very good.?

Clement, General Manager, R.C. Schools
?On a whole the attendance was very good. Only a few parents were still a little confused about what?s happening so they didn?t send their children to school. But most of the schools countrywide are back in session and it?s business as usual.?

Geraldine Lewis, General Manager, Methodist Schools
?It?s almost back to normal. In fact, one principal called me this morning to say while the children are in school; many of them are still coming in late. They are not getting in early as usual because I suppose the news has just finally gotten out that schools are back in session and all Methodists schools should be. To the best of my knowledge we know that also the schools in the districts like Corozal and Stann Creek were prepared to go back. In fact, they had gone back last week but they has to discontinue because of the absence of water in the schools. We couldn?t have them in schools without water.?

Most teachers reported to work. And while there is not yet any definite plan as to how to make up for the time lost from school, each of the managers told News 5 that their students will be assisted especially those getting ready to sit the Primary School Examination.

Clement Wade
?It?s now to give full time to the children to try to prepare them and already something has been worked out with the Ministry of Education in which they will be asked to maybe put back the exams a few weeks in order that the children will catch up and I am confident that the children will catch up.?

?Principals will be asked to work out a programme that they can give back the children the extra time that was taken away because of the strike action that was carried on by the unions.?

General Manager of Anglican Schools, Carol Babb says besides preparing their primary school students for the PSE their fourth form high school teachers are ready to assist their students prepare for the CXC examination.

Carol Babb
?So I guess that means staying back in the evenings maybe weekends and I think maybe Easter Holiday will be a possibility. I am not sure about Easter Holiday but they are prepared to make up for whatever time the children have lost.?

Geraldine Lewis
?They have been doing some extra classes even before we went on this industrial action and I know that the teachers will be prepared to do all that is in their power to make classes like Saturdays and maybe later in the evenings. Some of them go to school early in the morning like eight o?clock and they have a half hour session with the children before they go back in. I would imagine that from here on out it will be steady pushing towards the PSE.?

But if most children did what twelve year olds Kasandra Madrill and Andre Pitts say they did over the past two weeks then both students and teachers will not find make up time all that difficult.

Andre Pitts, Std 6 Student
?To keep myself busy I read a lot of books and I studied the notes and went over the notes in the areas that I think I am weak in.?

Kasandra Madrill
?When I was away I studied my Maths and I read a lot of books and I watched discovery channel.?

Jacqueline Woods for News 5.

The PSE is scheduled for March eighteenth and May third but those dates may be pushed back.

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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