The absence of a Teaching Service Commission [TSC] is of concern to the Guyana Teachers’ Union [GTU]. This is according to President of the Union, Mr. Mark Lyte, who revealed that without a Commission in place, senior teachers’ appointments could once again be in limbo.
The TSC, which is tasked with promoting public school teachers, was dissolved about a month ago.
According to Lyte, the GTU is hopeful that moves could be made to install a new board, since the possibility of promotions being stalled could become a much feared reality.
The GTU is certainly not hoping for the repeat of such a dilemma. In 2015, the union had moved to the court to have the TSC and the School Board Secretariat (SBS) review their preliminary list of senior promotions. Because of that court matter, the 2015 promotions were held up and were only fast-tracked until earlier this year, although the court ruling made towards the end of last year was in favour of the review, the GTU demanded.
According to Lyte, while promotions were conducted by both the TSC and SBS, the court action had resulted in a court ruling that ordered the TSC to take sole responsibility for the promotions of all public education institutions, with the exception of President’s College, which is governed by an Act, and the Cyril Potter College of Education.
“The ruling of the court would have placed promotions for all schools in the hands of the Teaching Service Commission…no Board should be doing appointments; the appointments for even technical institutes, and so rest in the hands of the TSC,” related Lyte.
Lyte had moreover hoped that following the latest promotions which became effective at the start of this school term that efforts would have been engaged by the TSC to commence another round of promotions, given the fact that there was none in 2016. He, during a recent interview with this publication, said that “it was the hope of the GTU that the TSC would have proceeded with yet another list of senior promotions in order to allow for teachers to be promoted at the start of the January school term.” It is for this reason, Lyte underscored that “it is important to us that this matter is treated with urgency.”
But without moves to install a new Commission, Lyte said that the Union is worried that eligible teachers will again have to wait to be duly promoted.
According to Lyte, “the union along with officials of the Ministry of Education have already vetted a list of senior appointments and that list has been finalised…it is the Commission’s responsibility to now publish that list. All we are waiting on now is for the Commission to be sworn in, in order for the process to move forward. At this point, it is critical for the Commission to be sworn in but we are not hearing anything about this. The longer we take to have a Commission in place, the longer the list will take to be published, and the longer our teachers will have to wait to be promoted again.”
As a constitutional body, the Commission usually comprises of four members nominated by the ruling party, one member nominated by the opposition party, and another nominated by the GTU. The union, according to Lyte, has already nominated its member. “We will be retaining our last nominee but it is left for the party in power and opposition [party] to name the other five and then the Commission has to be sworn in by the President [David Granger].
Without the TSC in place, Lyte said that the GTU is worried that School Boards will be allowed to resume responsibility for appointments.
But according to him, the Union doesn’t feel comfortable with School Boards doing appointments because that is where, we have had a lot of discrepancies that forced us to seek the intervention of the court…during the court-ordered review, we saw a lot of changes.”
In light of this development, he revealed that “as far as we know there was a document done and it was sent to the Attorney General [AG] Chambers for advice on that particular matter [but] to date nothing has emerged from the AG.”
The GTU President noted that without advice from the AG to move forward, the appointment process could revert to a troubling state of affairs. “This is not something that the union will want to see and so we are appealing to the powers that they swiftly appoint a new Commission so that our teachers can be appointed fairly, without the courts having to intervene,” Lyte stressed.
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