Kaieteur News – The government is entitled to its opinion, but it is not entitled to its own version of the truth. It has a right to decide who it wishes to work with, but it is not at liberty to concoct ingenious explanations as to why someone is no longer in a designated position.
News reports have indicated that the former Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs is no longer working in that position. The government has confirmed this fact but has indicated that the person concerned has not been dismissed but is being reassigned.
The Guyana Public Service Union (GPSU) had called for the person to be reinstated (presumably as the PS in that Ministry) since that person is a public servant who it is claimed is appointed by the Public Service Commission (PSC). The government has also faced criticism of usurping the role of the PSC by the removal of the person from the post.
The President is empowered to appoint Permanent Secretaries. It is doubtful therefore that the PSC could have appointed anyone to the post of a Permanent Secretary. Any such appointment would be ultra vires of the Constitution.
The holder of a public office can also be reassigned. But any such reassignment should not deprive that person of any of his or her entitlements.
The position of Permanent Secretary is the highest administrative posting in the public service. A career public servant cannot go any higher than a Permanent Secretary. So the person concerned really have little grounds to complain that removal from that specific public office would hinder her career advancement.
What is disingenuous is the contention by a government official that since there is no longer a Ministry of Indigenous People’s Affairs, there can no longer be a Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Amerindian Affairs. The change of the name of a Ministry does not make its public offices redundant. The change of name of a Ministry does not dissolve the Ministry. As such, this explanation is pure poppycock.
But when it comes to nonsense, the prize belongs to those teachers at the Bishops’ High School who have reportedly gone on strike over alleged criticisms which were made of them on an Instagram post. The teachers have reportedly indicated that they were dissatisfied with the investigation done by the school.
But what was the nature of the investigation? Was it about who was behind the post or was there an investigation to determine the truthfulness of the allegations? Have the teachers been cleared of any wrongdoing or is the focus simply on the person who is alleged to have made the social media posts?
There is a need for an investigation. But that investigation should be done by the Ministry and it should be into the allegations of bullying and homophobic prejudices. Not just into who was behind the posts.
No student should be sanctioned simply for making criticisms of teachers. Students have a right to be critical of teachers. If the criticism becomes disrespectful or abusive, then the students should be criticized.
No crime or criminal offence was committed by virtue of the allegation made that teachers bullied students and held positions which the person who made the post considered as homophobic. No laws were broken.
Students make comments privately all the time about teachers. There is hardly a school where students do not ascribe ‘false names’ to teachers. These names often reflect how students view teachers.
Teachers know that behind their backs, students ridicule them. But that is harmless stuff, and many teachers find fun in some of the “call names” which students give to them. In my time at school, we used to call a teacher Mr. Bo Jangles. He knew we called him that but never said a word.
In this instance, we have a situation where teachers may have been offended that they were accused of bullying or being homophobic. These are indeed serious charges and what is needed is an investigation as to whether there is merit in those charges.
Teachers have a right to be cleared of such allegations. But the person making the allegation also has a right to having a full investigation into any form of bullying or homophobic behaviour at the school.
The Ministry of Education should try to get to the bottom of these allegations, particularly the one about bullying. Whether or not it is justified is for an investigation, but the fact is, it needs to be established why any student would feel bullied by teachers.
(The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of this newspaper.)
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