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Dec 15, 2022

Caribbean Union of Teachers Hosts Educational Conference in Belize

The Caribbean Union of Teachers is hosting its annual Education Conference in Belize. Over the last few days union leaders from across the country have been engaged in meaningful discussion on some of the shared issues faced by teachers in the classroom. Those discussions have led to a number of proposed solutions that these leaders are now equipped with to take back to their school management and government leaders. News Five’s Paul Lopez stopped in at the Biltmore today to learn more. Here is that report.


Paul Lopez, Reporting

The Belize National Teachers Union is known for its vigor in championing the causes of teachers across the country. Of no surprise is that teachers across the Caribbean are faced with similar issues as those in Belize. From the lack of adequate resources in the classroom, to the deep divide between unions and policy makers. Every year teachers from across the region gather under the Caribbean Union of Teachers to brainstorm solution for modern day problems in the classroom. This year’s conference is being held in Belize.


Garth Anderson

Dr. Garth Anderson, President, CUT

“Very similar issues and that is one of the very good things of having the Caribbean Union of Teachers. It brings us together. There are some nuisances, but on the whole we are experiencing some of the same kind of challenges. We have resource issues. We have government’s not listening to teachers. We have teachers who are underpaid. We have issues with the conduct of students. So, you name it. We have some common issues across the board, so we see if we can come together to find some solution to resolve them. We are not just about complaining, but it is about finding solutions to some of these problems, because if we don’t we don’t know who will.”


Dr. Garth Anderson, the President of the Caribbean Union of Teachers, says the two days of meetings seek to empower the members of CUT, to ensure that they are on the cutting edge of the developments in the education sector. One such evolution is the increased use of technology in the classroom.


Elena Smith

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

“We know that for our reality many of our schools and our students don’t have resources to be able to properly engage n the use of technology. So, that is one area we have to work on. We just met, moments ago, with a couple. And, they have an organization that would be able to provide some of these resources, for example, laptop to schools. What we must do on our end is to have the data, because, we are not a data driven people. So, we need to provide them with the data as to how many students need a device, what kind of device they need, what the schools have and how they can make use of these things. We then collaborate with them to get these devices in country. What we have to now do is get the data and work with ministries to see how we can get those devices into the country without cost to the schools.”


While collecting the necessary data is an endeavor on its own, importing large quantities of electronics for students without any cost to the schools would require government intervention. But, how does a teachers union like the B.N.T.U. go about obtaining the necessary buy-in from policy makers for its proposal?  For the most part, the relationship between the union members and government has been antagonistic.


Antonia Tekah-Defreitas

Antonia Tekah-Defreitas, First Vice-President, CUT

“There would need to be two levels of communication to have the government buy in to what unions are proposing and to implement policies for the best interest of students and educations. The first level of communication would come when members themselves, as we have been encouraging during the conference, when members themselves come together and use their voices, share the ideas, share the concerns as well, make the recommendations. The other level of communication will have to do with how the unions collaborate with government and the ministries of education as president said, it simply would not be, not that we are making any apologies, it simply would not be well we want this. Show them why we would want it, the financial cost for why you are doing this; let them see the benefit to national development.”


Elena Smith

“I think that when we look at solutions that are realistic, things that are implementable I don’t see why as partners we can’t get together and get those implemented. Now, if we are looking at things that will need huge changes or will come at an exorbitant cost, then we understand that will take a longer time. But, several of the things we spoke about today and yesterday are things that can be implemented without needing financing.”


The conference concludes later today with a dinner that will be hosted by Prime Minister John Briceño. Reporting for News Five, I am Paul Lopez.

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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