May 06, 2010 Letters
So is this what life in this democracy has come to; teachers cannot be paid their April salaries? I read with disgust the article in last Sunday’s Kaieteur News and I am perturbed at the level our officials would sink to, what is clearly a twisted act to confuse and punish teachers attending the University of Guyana Berbice Campus without release from the Ministry of Education. What is this country coming to?
It also seems that no other newspaper or media house had any intention to report the story and make it public. Thank you, Kaieteur News, for bringing us the latest and keeping the nation up-to-date. The 20 extra dollars I pay for the Kaieteur News is well spent, and I hope you sort out your issues as well with the government, even though it looks like they are victimizing you like they did the SN a few months ago.
But let me get back to the salaries issue and the Berbice teachers. The article stated that the salaries for April have been withheld for nearly two weeks — two weeks! And no word has been uttered from the Guyana Teachers Union (GTU)? What is going on? Where is the concern and care for teachers’ interests? I thought something new might have happened under a new president, however, like we’re still back to square one.
To punish the educators of this country; people who are trying to upgrade their skills and qualifications which they will use to benefit — not the education system in America or Canada or Botswana — but right here on the children of Guyana — their country and they are being treated this way by the authorities! It makes me sick!
Shouldn’t the Ministry of Education be thankful that teachers are attending University — but this government never ceases to amaze me! They act the exact opposite than how they’re supposed to. Doesn’t this officer who has withheld the teachers’ monies know that she is playing God with the lives of these teachers by depriving them the ‘pittance’ they collect at the end of the month — money which cannot even be used to do much — and a salary which they can hardly survive on? I read the story of the teacher who mentioned he had nothing to provide his one-month-old baby but will try to put his family’s concerns first and foremost. How many of those teachers whose salaries have been withheld have commitments and families to maintain? How many of them depend on the few dollars to make ends meet in what is already a struggling time for all of us in this country. No, but the officials want to add insult to injury by deliberately depriving those teachers from their daily bread which they earned by blood, sweat and tears in an education system which is becoming very hostile to its teachers. I say, shame on these education officers who have acted in this manner.
I am aware that the Ministry has a quota system with regards to the number of teachers from a school who would normally be allowed to attend university, but is anyone aware that the Ministry also gives preference to teachers who are going to pursue Admin studies over, let’s say, English or Social Studies at the campuses? Yes, that is part of the MOE’s criteria for attending UG. That’s sad indeed, as they are discriminating against persons doing Social Studies, as if to say that what they’re studying have no worth or value. This education system is so flawed!
The Ministry of Education should see to it that more teachers attend classes at UG. Some arrangement should be made that they teach, perhaps on Saturdays, if they attend during classroom sessions, or that their pay is cut whenever they miss work to attend UG. That, I can understand. What I can’t understand is holding back people’s monies. It’s disgusting and not to mention downright immoral! Labour Day 2010 has come and gone! Shame the way we treat our teachers because they are trying to get themselves equipped with tertiary education — where is the crime in that?
I would like to advise those teachers whose salaries the authorities in Region Six are making a habit to withhold every month to know that the labour laws state that once someone works, they deserve pay. Teachers, you have a right to your monies, whether or not you are attending UG without release. They can deduct money from your payslips but they cannot withhold your salaries if you have worked! Know your rights! You can even take legal action against this official.
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