Moves by officials within two education districts to impose an unprecedented regulation on teachers, have gained the attention of the Guyana Teachers’ Union [GTU].
Based on information that has reached this publication, the two districts in question are Georgetown and Region Five. Kaieteur News has learnt that the developments were first brought to the fore, following meetings within the districts, during which the perplexing information was filtered to head teachers.
The regulation imposed in Georgetown is that teachers at the primary level will not be granted permission to leave the country during the Easter vacation. School is set to close Friday, March 23, 2018 and reopen on Monday April 9, 2018.
Reports suggest that teachers will not be granted permission to leave the jurisdiction until July, when schools usually go into recess for two months.
This state of affairs was confirmed by GTU President, Mr. Mark Lyte, who in an invited comment asserted, “the GTU cannot see why our teachers can’t go on a short vacation; many of them have their families overseas and they would like to make a short trip.”
“We are not aware of any regulation that prevents teachers leaving the country, so we want to know where this is coming from in the Georgetown Department of Education…and we understand that it is only happening at the primary level,” said Lyte.
When asked if the union is aware of the reason for such an imposition, Lyte said based on the reports that have reached the union “teachers were told that there is some programme that may be going on within that period, but we don’t see how that can prevent teachers from leaving for the vacation period…We have limited information about the reason,” Lyte admitted.
In order to travel overseas during the school vacation periods, teachers would normally apply for permission from their respective regions to do so. But this new and presumably unwritten regulation, Lyte said, is contrary to what teachers are accustomed to.
According to the GTU President, there is no known stipulation that teachers have to adhere to such a regulation. “Children are on vacation and because children are on vacation the teachers are on vacation too, and they cannot go to school and teach anybody,” added Lyte.
Meanwhile, Lyte said that in Region Five, the Union has learnt that teachers have been told that they actually have to be at school for the two weeks of the Easter vacation. This again, Lyte said, is a breach of existing regulations.
“We know there is a circular that teachers have to be around pre- and post-term during the August vacation, this means that one week after school closes in July, teachers have to be around, and come back a week before school opens in September…but to tell our teachers now they cannot leave or they have to be at school during the vacation for the two weeks doesn’t make sense to us.”
The new stipulation for teachers reportedly at all levels in Region Five will require that teachers be in school from Monday to Thursday next week and from Monday to Thursday of the following week.
“We are questioning on whose authority these regulations are being imposed, because as far as we know this has not been rolled out across the country….The complaint is coming from only two districts. There is no memo; it is just the region imposing this as far as we know. It is being said to the head teachers, who are going back to their schools and instructing their teachers that this is what their education officers have said to them,” Lyte shared.
He revealed that the union has been privy to several schools’ instruction books, which outline the new regulation as an official instruction to teachers. The instruction books are usually read and signed by teachers in acknowledgement.
Since the regulation is not known, Lyte said that “Teachers are questioning the authority of such instructions, since we are not aware that it has come from the Chief Education Officer, neither has it come from the Deputy Chief Education Officer.”
Moreover, Lyte said that the union is of the belief that “within the education sector, education officers are making their own rules and their own decisions that are contrary to the circular or the policy rules that govern those particular things”.
“We have no problem with our teachers abiding and going along with the established rules and regulations, but to enforce something that is not established, and in two regions, is cause for concern,” Lyte stated.
He added, “These are things that are affecting the system because ever so often we have regions doing their own thing, and we are not aware it is something coming from the Ministry…so when it is done it affects our teachers.”
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