It has been almost one month since the article titled “Bynoe returned as GTU President” with the sub-heading “…plans to tackle growing teacher indiscipline”, appeared in the Kaieteur News of 9th April, 2012. There has been no response from any commentators in any of the daily newspapers. I find this strange, especially when a careful analysis is done of Mr. Bynoe’s comments.
Personally, I find the comments troubling and disappointing. Mr. Bynoe said that “the economic situation in this country is such that teachers’ salaries should be increased several fold…” and that “all teachers [feel that they] should be given duty-free concessions and not [just] a selected bunch”. He continued that the low voter turnout “could also be blamed on teachers feeling that they all should be given house lots and housing loans…to help them…”
It is clear from Mr. Bynoe’s comments that he believes that teachers’ disenchantment with the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU) has to do with what they did not get from the GTU. I am sure that he knows that this is not the case.
Rather, I presume he is taking a shot at the Ministry of Education for its inability to fulfill its multi-year agreement, especially in terms of the promised houselots, house-loans, and equity in distribution for the duty-free concessions. There is a simpler reason why teachers did not vote. Teachers do not know the candidates! Teachers will not vote if they do not know the candidates. I will give a simple example. I live in Demerara. Demerara is represented by Regional Vice-President Hazel Pyle. I have never seen or met Hazel Pyle.
While I am disappointed with Mr. Bynoe’s comments regarding the reasons for the low voter turnout, I am deeply troubled by what he perceives to be his job for his new term of office. He assured that teachers’ [poor] punctuality and regularity at school and “even types of response towards teaching” will all be feverishly dealt with in the next two years. He noted that it is evident that “some people (teachers) have not been teaching” and he asserted that these issues are very important since they directly affect children in the schools.
I wish to say to Mr. Bynoe that this is not his job. Firstly, punctuality and regularity is an issue for the Ministry of Education and the Teaching Service Commission. Although the Ministry of Education has been listless in solving these problems, Mr. Bynoe’s job is to represent teachers at these forums if unfair treatment is being handed out to them.
Secondly, the problem of teachers not teaching is another issue for the Department of Education and the Ministry of Education, not the GTU. In a subsequent article, it was reported that Mr. Bynoe indicated the Union is working to get more males into the teaching profession. Again, this is a job for the Ministry of Education, not the GTU.
It is not as if Mr. Bynoe has nothing to do so he decides to help the Ministry of Education. I would like to suggest some areas in which he can expend his efforts. These include demanding that teachers who worked the August 2011 Remediation Programme be paid (wages); demand that each school be provided with drinkable water (working conditions); insist that the Ministry’s drive to make clerks out of teachers be stopped; accelerate the de-bunching process by demanding the Ministry of Education sticks to its deadlines, educate teachers about the licencing process which the Union seems to have accepted without consulting its members; demand that all those teachers who have been seconded to GECOM be removed from the Teaching Service Commission so that these vacancies can be made available for new teachers; demand standardization in policy implementation between the Ministry of Education and the Departments of Education so that teachers do not look like idiots when schools are visited by the Ministry of Education, and finally, if he has some time, he can look into the quandary faced by in-service teacher trainees at the Cyril Potter College of Education.
Finally, Mr. Bynoe has one other important task which he must perform. He needs to take the executives of the Teachers’ Union to strategic locations in the country to meet the teachers of Guyana. Only then will teachers vote. Only then will the Union become relevant. As it stands now, we only hear about the Union every five years when a multi-year agreement is signed.
Mohammed S. Hussain
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