Over the past few years Guyana has been complaining about the loss of skills. Some of the skills disappeared because of the crime wave that rocked the country, some left in response to the pull factor—relatives leaving and now filing for those left behind—and of course those who decided that there was better remuneration to be had elsewhere for their skills.
Many teachers, nurses, doctors, artisans and the like fled to the so-called greener pastures, leaving behind those who were either too old and set in their ways or those who were prepared to wait the few more years for their pension and gratuity. One of them is at the root of a protest at Queen’s College.
She has reached the age of retirement and the staff feels that she should no longer continue to hold the position from which she retired. They insist that she is preventing a member of staff or someone else to attain the office.
However, this has been the case of the Guyana Police Force over the past decade. Every Commissioner, except Winston Felix, got an extension to the point that some senior police ranks retired without even being allowed to reach the pinnacle of their career. We are unaware of any protest at the extension of the tenure of the Police Commissioner.
But there is still the issue of the loss of skills. Some may argue that there are qualified people to replace Ms Gem Rohlehr, people with her experience. If this is the case then the Education Ministry has stymied a teacher. However, in many cases, especially in recent times, the replacements have not been as good as the predecessor.
This is the reason for the Education Ministry taking a firm decision to rehire retired teachers. This should have been the case a long time ago—ever since the nation spotted the decline in the education standards. For a very long time people began to realize that children were coming through the ranks without picking up the basic literacy and numeracy skills.
Technicians argued that the best teachers needed to be placed at the start of children’s academic careers but Guyana had adopted a policy of placing teachers in the senior classes.
This latter reason could be understood if one believes that the better teachers would take the soon to graduate student to a new level, although this is not usually the case. The child is already as good as he or she could be and only needs guidance to continue.
But even here there is a shortage of properly qualified teachers. It would be interesting to see if there would be protests when these retired teachers are placed in senior positions within the system. The argument from the serving staff members may be that they, the serving members, are in the system and deserve the rewards.
However, an examination of their work often unveils serious flaws, be they in the area of grammar or in the area of content. As lay persons, many of us have gone into the senior classes and have seen shoddy work on the part of the teacher.
Many of the rehired retired teachers should even be paid better than some in the system. They are certainly better than some who no doubt are trying their best but who are simply not good enough. Yet, we are certain that there are going to be protests.
People may wish to have the retirees remain at home but they, like the rest of us, know that whatever is in the system is not good enough.
So where does the protest end and recognition begin? One would suppose that the entire situation hinges on remuneration. There are those among us who only care about what they take home and not about doing the best they could on the job.
If there was any discussion with the heads of schools to rehire the retired teachers, one would like to see the notes on those meetings. Perhaps the officials might have pointed to the private schools where there is a preponderance of retired teachers.
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