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May 30, 2014

3 Belize City high schools to amalgamate; teachers in fear of losing their jobs

Tonight, there is fear and anxiety among a number of teachers over the proposed amalgamation of three high schools in Belize City. The proposal has been on the drawing board for years, but it now appears that come the new academic year Sadie Vernon, Maud Williams and Excelsior High Schools will come under one roof.  Official notification is expected in the next two weeks when some teachers will get a letter on whether or not they will keep their jobs. News Five’s Isani Cayetano reports.


Isani Cayetano, Reporting

The start of the 2014 academic year in late August will see the amalgamation of three Belize City high schools; namely, Sadie Vernon, Maud Williams and Excelsior high schools.  With that merger of resources come a number of issues that secondary school teachers are fighting hard not have swept under the rug.  The proposal has been on the table since 2010 and four years later the kinks are yet to be fully ironed out.  News Five spoke with two teachers today who asked to remain anonymous for fear of victimization by the Ministry of Education.


Voice of: High School Teacher

“No teacher would have been allowed to teach less than fifteen students and it was also mentioned at that session if the teacher has less than fifteen students that they needed to network with other organizations or other schools to see how they would best offer the courses to ensure that you would have that fifteen plus students in the classroom.  So clearly, that autonomy was left in the hands of the school.  So far, well it’s from 2010 to now, it’s four years after and I would want to believe that maybe partial communication has taken place, I don’t know, because we were not given any feedback as to what was going on from the administrators.  It’s four years now and now we’re at this position.”


The present situation is that it remains unclear whether a majority of teachers who are employed by either of the three institutions will have a job come August.


Voice of: High School Teacher

“It makes us feel anxious.  I, for one, I know I feel anxious because, as you rightly said, you come to school, you put in your work and you’re still unsure of come August if you’re going to be here, if you’re going to have your job or anything.  So it definitely creates anxiety and we are still expected of course as professionals to go in the classroom and operate as per normal.  Produce, interact with the kids hundred percent, give your all which is somewhat unfair because we are humans.  Imagine you are told you have two weeks to live, I know that is probably a more severe example but it’s similar somewhat.  You’re told you have two weeks to live but noh pay attention to that, go back to your family and just give it your all, go to work and give it your all noh worry bout di two weeks weh you have to live, you know.  It doesn’t give you an opportunity to prepare for the unknown because you have so many questions.”


Among those questions is the criteria for the process of elimination.  Teachers will be sent home at the end of this semester but the contributing factors are unknown.


Isani Cayetano

“How would this process of elimination work in terms of dismissing, for lack of a better term, the teachers who would be deemed redundant?  Is it based on those who were hired last, is it based on security of tenure?”


Voice of: High School Teacher

“Well that is something that we are not sure of either because we know, according to the law, it’s last in first out but based on what we understand so far they are looking at efficiency.  That’s the term that they used, efficiency.  So if you are here for twenty, twenty-five years and they deem you not producing then more than likely you might be on the line too.  So, who is left to make those recommendations?  We still don’t know who will make those recommendations.  So there are a lot of things that are still unanswered and I think that is what is creating the anxiety among teachers.  Who’ll be going?  Who’ll be the ones to stay?”


Isani Cayetano

“I had a brief opportunity to speak with Brenda Armstrong and Sister Caritas Lawrence earlier today and I believe that they are both integral to all this change that’s on the verge of taking place and I was told that as far as these two individuals are concerned there will not be an amalgamation.  Do you believe that this is just semantics, in terms of amalgamation or networking or the merger of resources.  Do you believe that it’s all the same thing and it’s just being clouded using different terms?”


Voice of: High School Teacher

“Well the word that has [been used], well at the beginning there was the word amalgamation and then in the few meetings that we were asked to be at, and I stress few, about two meetings, we no longer heard or used the word amalgamation instead it was merging of networks, networking and so that is the term that is floating around right now.  We’re going to be networking with each other, we’re going to be using each other’s resources.”


We understand that the teachers were to receive letters today informing them of their employment status but that has since been postponed until further notice. Reporting for News Five, I am Isani Cayetano.

A meeting between the B.N.T.U. and the Ministry of Education is scheduled to take place next week Tuesday.

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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