President of the Guyana Teacher’s Union (GTU), Colwyn King, has attributed an incident, that saw a parent attacking a senior teacher at the North Georgetown Secondary School, to the current structure of the Education Ministry.
According to King, over the last few years the Ministry has deemphasised the importance and the authority of teachers in the school and has given that authority over to others.
The incident in question occurred about one month ago but was only highlighted two days ago in this newspaper because there was no action by the Education Ministry.
The female teacher said that she was both verbally and physically attacked by the parents of a second form student. She said that her attackers have since promised to put an end to her career.
According to King such an incident was allowed to occur. The impact that teachers had back on society back in the days no longer exists thus leaving teachers in a vulnerable position.
“When a parent can walk off the road, enter a school compound and physically assault a teacher something is wrong. In this case one of the parents is using his so-called political connection and that is of some concern,” King noted.
He added that unless the Ministry of Education demonstrates strongly and firmly who is in charge at public schools, such situations are likely to continue unabated.
The assault on the teacher, King said, follows a recent incident at a Berbice High School where a student was bold enough to slap a teacher. Nothing is being done, King insisted.
“It’s a sad day because there are sometimes matters are reported to the Ministry and nothing is done. They wait until it is reported in the media before action is taken with preciseness and precision. The Ministry is aware of this incident but this is not important to them so nothing has been done.”
King however noted that teachers must be blamed to some extent for the state of the system, as they are aware that the law states that the environment in which they operate must be conducive to teaching and learning and must not pose any danger to life and limps. “If the environment poses any dangers and inhibits us from performing our duties effectively we have the right to refuse to work. But these incidents happen all the time and teachers continue to work,” King lamented.
“Here is a case where a child is enjoying her education but the teacher is molested. I am saying that the child should not even be allowed to attend that school until the matter is settled. Unless people understand that based on their action there is a consequence, nothing will be done…”
And while it can be argued that the incident had nothing to do with the child, King asserted that the parents of the child has done wrong thus teachers need to take up the responsibility of standing up for themselves.
“The teachers should sit-in until the matter is resolved if you don’t fight your case no one will fight it for you… I am happy that the teacher in this case has not decided to stay quietly in the corner but is willing to stand up for her right,” King added.
According to King, such action is imperative if measures are to be put in place to correct the lawlessness that is allowed in the school system and to emphasise the need for respect of the law and authority.
“If we want persons in our society to respect the law I think we must ensure that the law is adhered to in our schools first” thus the need for recapturing teachers’ authority in the school system.”
King noted though that often is the case that teachers have complained that they are not supported by society and in some cases have observed that the union itself is recalcitrant and does not stand up for them. “I am saying now that the union is standing up for teachers and will continue to represent them.”
Efforts to contact officials at the Education Ministry yesterday were futile.
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