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Sep 28, 2016

Minister of Education Proposes S.I. to Address Replacing Teachers in Emergencies

The Ministry of Education today said it is putting in place contingency plans in the event of a prolong strike by the Belize National Teachers Union.  A statutory instrument will be signed by the Minister of Education to amend the Education Act and Rules with regard to issuing of teachers’ licenses but according to the Minister, it will not take effect in time for this Monday’s planned strike.  Speaking this afternoon after a half-day meeting between officials of the Ministry of Education, and representatives of the various primary and secondary schools managed by church denominations, private entities and the Government itself, Minister Patrick Faber said he wanted to establish for the future that no matter what happens, the children are kept in the classrooms.  News Five’s correspondent Aaron Humes reports from the ITVET grounds in Belize City.


Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education, Youth, Sports and Culture

“There is currently, under our Education Act and Rules, as you know, numerous types of licensings – or licenses and permits that allow for a number of people to be hired in our classrooms. You know of the full license, the provisional license and just recently the special permit; there are also a few other types of licenses. But none of them in our opinion comes closest to – or in fact, there were no provisions specifically for us to hire persons in the event there is industrial action and we need persons to be temporary replacements for teachers in the classroom.”


Aaron Humes, Reporting

That need has led to a Statutory Instrument being prepared for signature by the weekend. But is this premature, considering that the Belize National Teachers’ Union at this time plans only for its members to be out for a single day from schools? According to Minister of Education and Deputy Prime Minister Patrick Faber, the S.I. expands the categories of persons who can have a license to teach and would thus qualify as temporary replacements – and that’s not just anybody.


Patrick Faber

“We do not support just putting people in the classroom – and that is for obvious reasons. We have these mechanisms for licensing and permits, because we want to make sure that just not anybody is allowed in the classroom. And so, in an effort to try to ensure that we are doing things legally, I intend to sign the Statutory Instrument to amend the Rules to allow for this permit to teach, to be extended to allow for the hiring of teachers to assist in emergency situations like industrial action. And I intend to have that signed and good to go by the end of the weekend. We have said to the managing authorities – that is the general managers and the board chairs and whoever else is involved in the hiring – that they should proceed with finding people who will meet the requirements of the permit to teach, and by that we mean persons who hold full licenses; persons who may have an expired provisional license; persons who have that special permit that we granted, that may have, in the interim of trying to secure that permit, having been denied in the first instance; eventually gotten it, but the job was already lost, because the management had to move on; parents who are of good repute in the school community; retired teachers – anybody who is in that category, and the school’s management sees it fit that they can be of assistance in keeping the doors of the school open; those are the persons we have encouraged the management, the managing authorities, to add to their list of potential persons to be hired as temporary replacement teachers.”


The Minister of Education reiterated rather than acting in haste, the Ministry and managing authorities were trying to be ready to meet their requirement to provide education services for the country.


Patrick Faber

“It is not premature. You will understand that we have to be ready. We are not saying that we are going to execute this plan even on Monday, when the first day of strike action is in place. You have heard me say that we are looking at putting the replacement teachers, if we get to that, maybe Wednesday, Thursday of the week, given that in fact you are right – we don’t know what number will play. But you cannot fault my Ministry; and you cannot fault the managing authorities for these learning institutions for wanting to put in place a plan, because again, it goes back to what is required of us. We are responsible, we are tasked by this nation to provide education services for this country, and we will make sure that goes on as uninterrupted as is possible.”


The Minister says that the S.I. will be signed, no matter what – after consultation with the National Council on Education and National Council for Technical and Vocational Education and Training on Friday. B.N.T.U. President Luke Palacio represents the Union on both bodies, so he will be part of those consultations. But on Monday, if, as expected, a majority of B.N.T.U. members do stay at home, what happens? Faber told us that’s up to individual school managements.


Patrick Faber

“The managements will determine, more particularly, what plan – the specific plans are to put in place – they will also determine the numbers, based on them doing their homework, so to speak, in their respective schools. The Union reps, for instance, of those schools would indicate to the principal, ‘So many of our teachers have indicated that they are going to go,’ and if they are going to go on strike, they should do the responsible thing and inform, so they can look out of the safety of those children who come to school, and also their colleagues, who might not be of the same agreement as them. So we will know; we are expecting that the managing authorities will know by the end of the week, more or less, what will happen in their respective schools, and we are hoping that Monday will be an indicator. That is not to say that the managing authorities will not have a plan of dealing with the situation on Monday; it’s just that a part of that plan will not be to utilize replacement teachers. They will still try to find – maybe use their prefects, use their presidents of homerooms, use the teachers that are there; you might have some pastors from churches that want to help out; people who already hold some kind of permit to teach; if they have church groups volunteering; they might be able to utilize, let’s say, student-teachers who are in some of the teacher training institutions – there are a number of things that could happen on Monday and beyond, when it is that we will try to make sure that schools don’t close.”


Aaron Humes reporting for News Five.

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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3 Responses for “Minister of Education Proposes S.I. to Address Replacing Teachers in Emergencies”

  1. Kmh says:

    How far the minister has come from his youth. When protested in Belmopan and was dragged by police. Show that video to remind him of a time when he had principles.

  2. Belizean says:

    Stand up Teachers! do not be intimidated. I as a parent plan to support you guys by keeping my children at home. The minister wants to intimidate the bntu.

    He needs to be reminded that the people put him there!!!!

  3. Marie says:

    Give the teacher there pay, they have earned it, unlike you corrupted politicians that take the people money and build yourself mansions, bank account and fancy cars.

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