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May 12, 2021

San Benito Poite, Open for Primary Education

After a year of being away, students in the distant southern community of San Benito Poite returned to school on Monday.  They were among a handful of schools that were approved by the Ministry of Education to resume in-person learning.  While some teachers were eager to get back to their classrooms, others are still staying away due to the ongoing strike.  Our colleagues from P.G.T.V. journeyed to San Benito earlier today and shared the following story.  With more, here’s News Five’s Isani Cayetano.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The Belize National Teachers Union is on its thirteenth day of strike.  Across the country there are some schools that are open and there are others that remain closed as majority of their teaching staff continues to stay away from the classrooms.  In San Benito Poite, one of the far-flung villages in southern Belize, school administrator Domingo Teck is busy at work.  Classes resumed on May tenth, notwithstanding the countrywide strike.


Domingo Teck

Domingo Teck, Administrator, San Benito Poite R.C. School

“We applied for this tenth of May, we applied to open through the system that is on by the Ministry of Education.”



“And how has that been, are the students excited to be back?  Did you get a full enrollment back?”


Domingo Teck

“I noticed that the students were really excited, they were here bright and early and they were here, they were ready.  We are following the protocols of the COVID-19 and our school has a system of staggering time to begin classes.”



“And how is that working?”


Domingo Teck

“It is working well.  We begin with different categories with different timing.”


According to Teck, despite the ongoing industrial action, there is literally a disconnect between B.N.T.U.’s leadership and the teachers in this remote location.  There are no telephone or internet services to be found in these parts.


Domingo Teck

“The strike is one that we do participate in fully.  We are members of the B.N.T.U., we are financial members of B.N.T.U.  We’ve participated in demonstrations but one thing that we, that has us like this is the communication.  We are really disconnected from knowing what is out there because everything is virtual now, San Benito Poite is nowhere to be found with internet access, neither phone calls.  We do participate when we know that there is demonstration and then when it comes to strike, to close down the school, we participate in that.  Since we already told the parents that we were going to open this May tenth, we just come to see how much are coming, how much of our students are coming and that is how we find out that most of them are ready.  They wanted to start, but it’s just that we cannot start if the teachers are not in here, and those who are here, they did come to classes and those who are not, I cannot really force them to be in here and they have a right to do what it means to take strike.”


The unions are set to meet with government in another round of discussions on Thursday.  Meanwhile, classes continue as scheduled at San Benito Poite RC School. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

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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