I refer to the letter titled, “This is another example of educated individuals being used to undermine teachers’ claim for increased salaries” (KN September 02). As much as I regret the tone, content, and thrust of this letter I must respond for a few reasons.
Mr. Craig Sylvester and I clearly differ on the quantum of increase for teachers. I take no issue with that even as I stand firmly by my position, as articulated earlier, and with the bigger national picture duly considered.
However, I not only strongly object, but I take serious offense at Mr. Sylvester’s attachment to me through the claim of “individuals in the pay of the administration being used….” As if to make his emphasis clear, Mr. Sylvester repeated that statement in his writing. Nothing could be more inaccurate, nothing farther from the reality as it pertains to me. I proceed to enlighten Mr. Sylvester.
I have never received a single dollar from this government for any action, any role, anything. To reiterate: not a single cent has been either received or taken. Period. End of story. The records will show that stipends due are routed to one worthy cause or another, and never (never) to me.
During the rule of the previous government, and soon upon my return to Guyana, a fellow member on a school board encouraged me to assist with some monitoring with a stipend affixed. I was able to lend a hand to a couple of schools for a brief period, and I asked Mr. Tiwari (fellow board member), the Ministry of Education’s representative to channel the resulting monies to Central High School.
I do not know if it was done, but nothing came to me, or would have been accepted by me. Again, the bottom line is that I never received or took any pay in any form or in any amount from the current government or the prior one. This is my little, quiet public service. It is also living what I write.
When this government took office, I wrote in SN that people should not be paid for serving on state boards. Having so written, I now live the privilege of servanthood. Maybe this is unheard of, and alien to Mr. Sylvester’s mentality and outlook. But this is who I am.
For Mr. Sylvester’s information, there were other situations, educational and noneducational (think media-based) where I contributed without taking a single dime. I am humbled that I am able to live, by God’s grace, some of the very things of which I write and advocate. It is not much, but it is what I have. It is what I have shared and given freely.
Further, and I apologize if I am rubbing it in, Mr. Sylvester might be astonished to learn that I did 6-7 years of full-time service at a school with the express condition of no pay. Nothing; not one coin of any kind. If that is hard to believe and infinitely more problematic to stomach, I invite Mr. Sylvester (and any from the similarly critical and doubtful ranks) to check with the proper people. I can provide details through SN or KN.
Still further, for Mr. Sylvester’s edification and others so inclined, I say this loud and clear: no minister, no government can pay me, or influence me for this or that position on anything. That price does not exist; and all the oil money in the world means nothing to this poor man. In a word: unaffordable; in another unapproachable and nonnegotiable. I have never been so approached; I think it is well known that such would lead to a parting of the ways.
On another note, I seem to recall that Mr. Sylvester is the leader of a political party. I wish him the best. I also exhort him to consider this: real leaders do not condemn newspapers, in this instance, Stabroek News, for providing space for another view (also free and voluntary), no matter how disagreeable.
If this is leader Sylvester today, I cringe to think of the state of speech should he realize power in the future. Oh, and one more thing for Mr. Sylvester to digest. He might be severely discombobulated to learn that KN did approach me to write editorials (2-3 weekly at least) for a consideration. I made this much very clear: whatever that sum was, it would have to go to a charity to be identified.
I did write one editorial before other exigencies interfered with further involvement. I am still to tell Mr. Lall (not GHK) who and where to pay. The point is that SN is not alone in its interest in my thinking.
I readily acknowledge Mr. Sylvester’s critique of my position with teachers’ pay. I believe that an apology is due from him on my own pay. This is what honorable men and principled leaders do when confronted with the facts.
In closing, I take the liberty of sharing with Mr. Sylvester that there are a few people like me around; the very few who are independent and stand for things as they see it, whether in an individual or macro (teachers’ pay) circumstance. Government does not matter one whit; does not feature in the contemplation; it is neither relevant nor consequential in my thinking. That might be blasphemy to some; but it stands. Good luck with the politics.
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