“Teaching, which is described in many circles as a noble profession, should be placed higher on the government’s agenda especially in relation to descent job and proper working environment.”
This is the declaration of President of the Guyana Teachers Union [GTU], Mr. Mark Lyte.
According to Lyte, at present the teaching fraternity is of the view that “we serve employers who are uncaring and unappreciative of the contributions of teachers.”
He made this deduction in light of the unsigned Multi-year Agreement between the GTU and the Ministry of Education since a previous agreement expired at the end of 2015.
“The very employers publicly announced that they believe and support Collective Bargaining,” considered Lyte as he added, “We continue to seek answers about our promised debunching payment…the list can go on and on.”
The debunching money was part of an agreement that the GTU had with the previous administration. Since teachers are paid based on their qualifications, this means that a teacher who has just entered the system is paid the same salary of another that has been in the system for several years prior. With the debunching payment, it was expected that teachers will be eligible for payment based on their years of service.
The payment which was outstanding for a number of years was assured by the previous administration but was denied during the run-up to the 2015 elections.
Before and upon entering office, the coalesced A Partnership for National Unity + Alliance For Change [APNU+AFC] Government had committed to the agreement the GTU had with its predecessor. To date there has been no payment.
Lyte’s move to list some of the challenges faced by teachers in the public education system was forthcoming yesterday, the eve of World Teachers’ Day.
Under the theme ‘Teaching in Freedom, Empowering Teachers’, World Teachers’ Day is being observed today.
October 5, annually, is designated the day to recognise and honour teachers. The observance simultaneously marks the anniversary of the signing of the 1966 United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation/International Labour Organisation [UNESCO/ILO] Recommendation concerning the status of teachers.
The 1966 Recommendation constitutes the main reference framework for addressing teachers’ rights and responsibilities on a global scale.
The theme for the observance this year echoes the 2015 theme that followed the adoption of the new Sustainable Development Goals [SGDs] of September 2015, when teacher empowerment was reaffirmed as a top priority in all education and development strategies.
The United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals [SDGs] number Four and Eight respectively indicate that by 2030 moves should be made to substantially increase the number of youth and adults who have relevant skills, including technical and vocational skills, for employment, decent jobs and entrepreneurship; and that by 2030, building and upgrading of education facilities should be in place that are child, disability and gender sensitive and safe, non-violent, inclusive and effective learning environments, for all, should be a reality.
But according to Lyte, “Having looked at these goals one recognizes that in Guyana we are far from achieving the standard expected of us by 2030.” He therefore concluded that Government through its Ministry of Education has much to do in order to achieve these goals.
But in spite of the evident hardships encountered by teachers within the public education system, Lyte said that the GTU is convinced that the cadre of teachers it represent will continue to rise.
“We are true moulders of this nation,” Lyte emphasized even as he urged that “our employers have to respect and honour teachers who are serving this nation.”
Even as teachers prepare to put their concerns aside to fully commemorate a day that gives credence to their important role, Lyte said that “we wish all our teachers a blessed teachers’ day and trust that the theme for this year’s World Teachers’ Day help in some way to touch the conscience of our employers…Long Live the teachers’ of Guyana; we mould the nation!”
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