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May 18, 2018

B.N.T.U., M.O.E. Showdown at Civic for Teachers’ Day

Despite the back and forth on whether there would have been a teachers’ day celebration, today the event went on without a hitch. Teachers from across the country congregated in the city to celebrate their day.  While, it was expected that some six thousand teachers would be in attendance, the showing was not quite close to the six grand.  But it certainly wasn’t the number of attendees that shone inside the civic; it was the showdown of words.  B.N.T.U.’s National President Elena Smith, who proved to be the popular speaker today based on cheers alone, took the Ministry of Education to task. And then when it was time for the keynote address, it was tit for tat as Minister of Education Patrick Faber took jabs at the B.N.T.U.  News Five’s Andrea Polanco files the following report.


Andrea Polanco, Reporting

Teaching is arguably the most influential job in the world. But although they play a big role in nation building, for a very long time, some teachers in Belize have felt slighted and undervalued by the Management and Ministry. And when they gathered at the Belize Civic Center to celebrate the annual teachers’ day, President of the B.N.T.U. Elena Smith highlighted the challenges teachers face every day. Her statements were met with rounds of rousing applause.


Elena Smith

Elena Smith, National President, B.N.T.U.

“Teachers have had to spend too much out of pocket to do their job. We have been doing so for far too long and it is now time for managements to truly take up their responsibilities and provide the necessary materials for their schools. It is quite evident that we are the only set of Government paid employees who are expected to provide our own tools to effectively carry out our duties. This must, must cease.”


And Smith, in true B.N.T.U. style, called out the Ministry of Education. She didn’t miss a beat to point out the leadership or lack thereof.


Elena Smith

“As enforcers of the education policies and rules, they have the responsibility of providing oversight of the system, as well as enforcement of the policies and rules without prejudice. There will be little change if the status quo remains. The programs offered must be relevant to our time and region. And we must not be overloading our system with new approaches that will do no good for our children. Too often we have piloted and implemented programs because they have funding attached to them rather than because our children will benefit from them.  It is also time for those in authority to review the work load of teachers, including all those distracting activities that must be carried out including how much time is actually spent teaching our children. Time to stop allowing every group that wants to implement a plan to go to the teachers expecting them to take up that additional responsibility. At the end of the day teaches are to teach not to fundraise more than we teach.”


The Minister of Education Patrick Faber followed Smith’s presentation with a twenty-six minute speech.  Even with a waning popularity among teachers, Faber didn’t mince words.


Patrick Faber

Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“While I hear the praises of the B.N.T.U. loud and clear that our teachers are among the hardest public servants in this country, let us not be dishonest with each other and let us be clear that in fact there are still a good many teachers in our system who have refused to take on this necessary training, who are now finding themselves being kicked out of the system and playing victims to the whole movement; when in fact those teachers have been warned for years upon and years. Let us be honest and let us be open to the fact that your administration in this Ministry is only trying to do the right thing.”


But it wasn’t all tit for tat. The B.N.T.U. and the Ministry of Education agreed on one thing – the importance of trained and licensed teachers in the classroom.


Elena Smith

“Ensure you take advantage of every learning or training opportunity. Qualify yourselves to get he proper license to remain in the classrooms.”


Patrick Faber, Minister of Education

“I salute the B.N.T.U., though, for having been a gracious partner for encouraging teaches to get that training.”


Reporting for News Five, I’m Andrea Polanco.

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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