Essequibo yesterday witnessed what is believed to have been one of its largest protest marches ever, as 600 teachers from various schools across Region Two [Pomeroon/Supenaam], turned out in support of the nationwide strike.
Despite the inclement weather conditions, teachers from as far as the Pomeroon made it to the coastland, where they again participated in the protest in front of the region’s Department of Education.
The protestors marched from the Education Department, through the heavily commercialized community of Cotton Field, and then to the office of the Regional Democratic Council. The march attracted the attention of passersby, most of whom were amazed at the numbers of teachers who had turned out to protest for increased salaries, improved benefits and better working conditions.
In the meantime, a number of children were reportedly left unsupervised in schools across the region, since no teacher showed up to work yesterday. It was later confirmed that almost the entire Coast was shut down yesterday – except for Cotton Field Secondary – which still had a fair number of teachers present.
GTU Representative Ms. Desiree Vanlewin acknowledged the Parent/ Teacher Associations for their support, and encouraged more parents and children to join in the protest. According to Vanlewin, teachers will continue to stay away from school for the rest of the school week, and will return tomorrow for another protest.
She told the media, however, that the union is concerned for those teachers who refuse to strike, but would rather stay in school. She added, “There are other teachers in school and they are sending the children home. Those teachers, once they are in school, they have to teach. The children are many and they are few…Once they are there, they are also responsible for the children who are there in school… if anything happens, they will be liable.”
The GTU rep emphasised that “the struggle continues” and they will continue to protest unless the union says otherwise. Having said that, she urged all teachers to participate in the countrywide strike as they continue in the fight for an improved pay.
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