By Enid Joaquin
“Who has the final say? Jesus has the final say!”
Those were among the sentiments expressed by striking teachers in Linden, who yesterday called on Divine intervention as they took to the streets, taking their protest to another level – praying and singing religious songs as they marched through the streets.
Singing lustily, the teachers marched down Republic Avenue under the watchful eyes of the police and wended their way to the Region Ten Education Department.
There they staged a peaceful protest, while singing songs of hope, redemption and victory. They pledged to protest again today and are expected to head to Georgetown tomorrow.
According to one teacher who requested not to be named, if satisfactory news is not forthcoming, the strike will extend to next week. She pointed out that parents and students will also be called out to support the strike action.
NOT COMFORTABLE OR SECURE
Students of the Cyril Potter College of Education who have been deployed to various schools across Linden have meanwhile expressed their apprehension over this state of affairs.
A few said that they “do not feel comfortable or secure” with the conditions under which they operate. Some said that they are being left with keys unsupervised; some are at schools ‘liming’ alone, while others are of the view that they are being victimised by teachers who are not striking.
One trainee pointed out, “This morning, I came here and nobody was here, but one teacher coming in while I was heading out…all the doors are locked and the head teacher’s office as well…..Nobody is here to ring the bell and even if one or two students are in school, we have to walk the school to tell them classes start.
Yesterday, I had to go and look for the children in my class to tell them it’s time to come inside. By the time I got one in, another left, because they are used to the bell…..Added to that, I wanted to use the washroom and the cleaners couldn’t even find the teachers’ washroom keys.
Another declared, “This is nonsense, what happens if something goes wrong? Something lost? Or goes missing? Something damage? At first, we couldn’t even be in a classroom unsupervised, and now we are being left in the whole school unsupervised!”
These are just some of the concerns cited by trainee teachers. They are calling for a better plan of action, to be put in place by the Ministry of Education.
Notwithstanding the presence of the trainee teachers and retirees at schools in Linden, most parents have opted to keep their children at home.
Schools such as Amelia’s Ward Primary School had up to six substitute teachers.
Regma Primary School, Mackenzie High, Mackenzie Primary, Watooka Nursery, Coomacka Primary, One Mile Primary and the St. Aidan’s Primary, are some of the other schools that are presently being manned by trainee teachers and volunteers.
On Monday, teachers picketed the Region Ten Education Office twice, demanding a forty percent increase in wages and salaries.
GTU General Secretary Coretta McDonald subsequently met with the teachers on Tuesday and advised them to remain in the streets until they are properly remunerated. The teachers consequently pledged to continue the strike action, for at least the rest of the week.
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