Noting that World Teachers’ Day will be celebrated in less than a month, Assuria—Life, Pension, Fire and General Insurance yesterday made a donation of $500,000 to members of the Guyana Teachers’ Union (GTU).
At a simple ceremony held at the insurance office’s Church Street branch, General Manager, Mr. Yogindra Arjune, stated with much enthusiasm that, “We [Assuria Insurance and GTU] have had a long and very fruitful relationship, with us providing insurance packages to teachers. So we felt it befitting today…to make a monetary contribution.”
General Secretary of the GTU, Ms. Coretta McDonald expressed that “This activity is in a way symbolic that Assuria sees teachers as quite important. With the contribution of Assuria, it would enable us with what we have to do, and to ensure that teachers around the country are seen as important and realise how much we value them.”
World Teachers’ Day will be celebrated on October 5, with the theme, “I Teach for a Better World”, but the GTU official stated that a week of activities will be held in observance of the day, with events commencing on September 29th.
“Our branches throughout the country, they have activities. So for example in Region 10, they have a march; on Friday, there will be teachers in concert, and they will also focus on male teachers in this regard, to get males to be a part of the profession. Quite a few of our male teachers are shying away from the profession.”
McDonald stated that the $500,000 donation will be placed in a pool and awarded to those teachers who performed well at this year’s Caribbean Secondary Examination Certificate (CSEC) and the National Grade Six Assessment (NGSA) examinations, with a 80-95%. “We generally want to make sure that every teacher gets something from the fund,” she added.
McDonald also took time to highlight some issues that plague the teaching industry in Guyana. She related that there is shortage of teachers in nursery and primary schools within the City of Georgetown, but she did not specify which schools.
“We’re short of three or four teachers in each school. It sometimes varies. Not directly a shortage, but it is just that teachers are going out on maternity leave, so now you have a class there without a teacher. If there is not replacement, then you have a case where the class is being split between two other parallel classes, and they will now have to carry that weight,” she explained.
The General Secretary was keen to note that for a number of years the union has been advocating for a programme that would cater for the sudden shortage. She stated that in this programme, there would be “…a pool of teachers, secondary, primary, and nursery, so if there is a school with a shortage, then you can send that teacher to that school, which would help us in the issue of teachers being absent from classes.”
Furthermore, McDonald stated that an agreement has been signed to improve teacher-pupil relationship. “So our classes are now smaller, which means that we need more teachers and that was not readily one of the cards on the table.
We now have to make room for the additional teachers that we need, which would possibly entail more space in schools, and in 2020, it is going to be one of our primary items on the agenda.”
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